Most reasonable Americans felt that the Obamacare repeal effort/tax rate cut for the wealthy was dead, (a/k/a Trumpcare), for at least this Congress after Friday morning. Think again. Let’s explore.
It appeared that when Arizona Republican Senator John McCain turned his thumb down early Friday morning he trumped the last card Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had left to play. The Republicans were attempting to pass their tax cut for the rich (that is what it really was all about) via reconciliation so that they only needed 50 votes. Among the many restrictions for using reconciliation is that it is only “open” until the end of September. McCain has gone back to Arizona for serious cancer treatment and won’t be back until at least when the Senate reconvenes in early September. Congress will have to pass a budget (I’d bet on a Continuing Resolution) and raise the debt ceiling before September ends. After September any change(s) to Obamacare would be subject to the filibuster and require 60 votes. If Mitch can’t get 50 how is he supposed to get 60?
Over the weekend Trump had another one of his tweetstorms. It seems his ego is bruised because the Senate failed to pass any version of Trumpcare. He (incorrectly) railed that McConnell needed to immediately kill the filibuster rule in order to get his (Trump’s) awesome (his appraisal not mine) legislation passed. There are several things incorrect with that; I’ll look at two. The Republicans couldn’t get 51 votes on any measure. In one case they got 50 and Vice President Mike Pence dutifully bailed Trump’s “agenda” out. The best they could muster otherwise was 49; which is less than half of 100 the last time I checked.
Here are the Trump tweets that concern me: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” and “If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” He supplemented this during Friday’s speech on Long Island declaring he was correct from the beginning; that is when he wasn’t advocating police brutality. Hey, at least it wasn’t in front of a bunch of Boy Scouts; opps that was earlier in the week in West Virginia. Since the speeches the Boy Scouts’ leadership has apologized for the President’s remarks and is reviewing whether it will automatically invite future Presidents to address its jamborees. Similarly, senior police officials have denounced the President’s advice to street officers.
Trump’s admiration for despots is well known. One common trait of despots is that they are perfectly willing to kill their own people in order to bolster their ego and stay in power. Taking health care away from tens of millions of Americans will certainly result in premature and unnecessary American deaths. It is not as effective or dramatic as a chemical weapons attack, but if it is your kid that dies I don’t think that will matter to you. The irony here is that many of the deaths will visit families that voted for Trump. His political saving grace is that to a large degree his base hasn’t figured that out yet. Hell, a significant portion of them think Obamacare and the ACA are two different programs.
Many have looked to the 25th Amendment as a way to remove what various authorities are increasingly coming to believe is an insane President from office. I think Trump may well have insulated himself from that option. In order for it to be triggered the majority of the Cabinet must judge the President unable to perform the duties of his office. Look at who some of the Cabinet level people are: Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Steve Mnuchin, Linda McMahon, Tom Price, Rick Perry, Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, Jeff Sessions and Ryan Zinke; who but Trump would have ever appointed these clowns? Trump remaining in office is their lifeline.
The mistake Trump may have made if he follows through on his tweets is that he attacked two powers in Washington – a town he still doesn’t understand – the influence of money and Congress. If he attacks the “bailouts” to insurance companies that are part of Obamacare, the insurers will do one of two things: leave the market because of the uncertainty or attack Trump by using their massive lobbying dollars with Congress. Like all politicians, members of Congress really only respond to two things: money and votes. The insurance lobby has plenty of money to throw their way, they will already be angry with Trump if he attacks their health care and voters are increasingly taking to the streets to demonstrate against Trumpcare. The highest approval I have seen of any version of Trumpcare was in the teens (weeding out an outlier poll or two). Congress is empowered to impeach Trump. I don’t think it will go that far but I still feel that Trump will resign (declaring victory and citing the good of the country) under pressure from Congress ala Nixon.
Would Trump really kill Americans in anger over not getting what he could claim as a legislative victory? I fear the answer is yes. We have an incompetent and probably less than sane man-child in the Oval Office. He is literally hazardous to the health of thousands if not millions of Americans (don’t forget the lives that will be lost to the deregulation and non-enforcement of environment rules that are quietly going on).
Just how deranged is Trump? Would he really be willing to kill his constituents to feed his ego? Will Congress stop him? The answers to all those questions await us. It makes a liberal begrudgingly willing to deal with a President Pence or President Ryan for three years or so.
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