ULTIMATUM: Trump Threatens To Walk Away From Obamacare Repeal Unless House Republicans Pass It TOMORROW


So, it’s down to the wire.

On Thursday evening, multiple members of the Trump administration informed the press that the American Health Care Act – whatever the latest version is, regardless of its flaws or its lack of transparency with the public – will see a vote on Friday.

And that will be that.

Trump will wash his hands either way.

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said the White House message to House Republicans is clear: “Let’s vote.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “The president knew this was going to be tough from the get-go. We put our heart and soul into this bill.” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told the press that if the AHCA didn’t pass the House, Trump would move on and leave Obamacare in place. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that that they’d be moving forward with the vote on Friday. And multiple members of the GOP caucus say that the White House had informed them that the up-or-down vote would happen on Friday, because that’s what Trump wants.

This raises one big question: why the rush?

The answer: Trump doesn’t want the blame.

Here’s the political calculus right now. Trump has made an awful lot of promises to Americans regarding Obamacare. He has promised repeal, to be certain, but he’s also promised “insurance for everyone.” He has said he will keep in place Obamacare regulations requiring pre-existing conditions to be covered, but also said that he would lower costs while repealing the individual mandate.

In other words, he said a lot of things that can’t be true at the same time. Which means that everybody wants the moon.

What’s a politician to do?

Pass the buck.

That’s what Trump is doing here. He outsourced the authorship of the AHCA to one of his political long-time bête noirs, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan; he then came down on the side of that crap sandwich hard, so he couldn’t be accused of selling out the Republicans on repeal. Now he’s issuing an ultimatum that makes him look like a tough guy. But he also endorsed a bill so bad that House conservatives couldn’t side with it.

The impact: leaving Obamacare in place, or passing it. Either way, Trump wins. If the repeal effort fails, Trump can blame both his right flank for their intransigence and Ryan for writing the bill; if the bill passes, Trump will take credit for a legislative victory, no matter how hollow. Trump escapes blame: the Ryan crowd can’t blame Trump, because he worked for Ryan’s bill; the hard-core conservatives can blame Ryan rather than Trump, because Trump obviously doesn’t know much about the bill; and Trump fans obviously won’t blame Trump.

Just take a look at this non-representative poll of my followers on Twitter:

But whose fault is it really if the bill fails?

It’s everybody’s. It’s Ryan’s, for trotting out a bad bill. It’s Trump’s, because he obviously doesn’t have the will or inclination to work through the arduous process of bill-creation, which would give him a far larger political stake in passage. It’s conservatives’, for mistaking Trump for an avatar of their viewpoint.

Ironically, the same is true if this bill passes.

So it’s a lose-lose.

Well done, everybody.