Tim Alberta offered a vivid anecdote:
Thursday afternoon, members of the House Freedom Caucus were peppering the president with wonkish concerns about the American Health Care Act—the language that would leave Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” in place, the community rating provision that limited what insurers could charge certain patients, and whether the next two steps of Speaker Paul Ryan’s master plan were even feasible—when Trump decided to cut them off.
“Forget about the little s***,” Trump said, according to multiple sources in the room. “Let’s focus on the big picture here.”
The group of roughly 30 House conservatives, gathered around a mammoth, oval-shaped conference table in the Cabinet Room of the White House, exchanged disapproving looks. Trump wanted to emphasize the political ramifications of the bill’s defeat; specifically, he said, it would derail his first-term agenda and imperil his prospects for reelection in 2020. The lawmakers nodded and said they understood. And yet they were disturbed by his dismissiveness. For many of the members, the “little s***” meant the policy details that could make or break their support for the bill—and have far-reaching implications for their constituents and the country.
Maybe to Trump these details about the bill were “the little s***.” But to the members in front of him, this was the make-or-break criteria of what makes a good reform bill. You would think the author of The Art of the Deal would have understood the importance of knowing the other side’s priorities. I seem to recall impassioned, insistent assurances during the 2016 Republican presidential primary that Trump was the ultimate dealmaker.
House Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan tried Sunday to end the blame being cast upon his group and others for Republicans’ failed ObamaCare overhaul bill
Chis Wallace tried to get him to admit that he was trying to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions but Jordan would only say he was trying to make health insurance affordable.
Vice President Pence said that President Trump intends to keep his promise to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, pledging that the legislation’s collapse Friday was a setback that “won’t last very long.”
“President Trump is never going to stop fighting to keep his promises to the American people,” Pence said
.. “But as we all learned yesterday, Congress just wasn’t ready,” Pence said.
.. Pence pointed to a Saturday morning tweet from Trump suggesting Democrats would be forced to work with Republicans on a replacement bill once the Affordable Care Act “explodes.”
“In the 25 years I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time, agreed on what a healthcare proposal should look like. Not once,”
.. “They’ll fix Obamacare. I shouldn’t call it repeal and replace because that’s not what’s going to happen. They’re basically going to fix the flaws and put a more conservative box around it.”