This Thursday, the House will vote on the bill to replace Obamacare—the “American Health Care Act,” aka TrumpCare. As we’ve documented here and here and here, this is a bad plan that will leave millions uninsured while jacking up premiums, and it’s met opposition from everywhere—even the far right. Now, likely at Paul Ryan’s behest, Donald Trump is cracking the whip and actively threatening those right-wingers who still seem to be on the verge of voting no. Per Politico:
Trump warned Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who has led conservative opposition to the Republican health care plan, that “I’m gonna come after you” if he keeps it up, according to multiple sources.
The sources cautioned that Trump may have been “half joking,” as one put it. Yet the president did single Meadows out in front of his colleagues, asking the North Carolina Republican to stand up as Trump addressed him.
Ha…ha. Great “half-joke,” to make a guy stand up for his scolding, and then imply that if he doesn’t step in line, you’ll come after his seat in 2018. Meadows actually went to Mar-a-Lago this past weekend to talk about the ACHA with Trump, but his attempts at flattery in the aftermath were apparently unsuccessful.
Meadows…responded by complimenting the president on his residence.
Trump countered that “I guess it wasn’t lovely enough” because Meadows is still a “no” on the bill.
Now, this kind of political bullying isn’t unprecedented, and you could even say it’s fair game. Trump will look like (more of?) a major idiot if his chief legislative priority stalls out in a Republican-controlled House, and now is as good a time for desperation as any. Plus, he knows exactly how to appeal to politicians whose true first priority is saving their seats. The last thing they want is Trump campaigning against them in 2018 (which would be strange, but is not the most implausible he could do, by a long shot).
A flurry of last-minute changes were added to the bill over the past week in order to placate the right-wingers (and a few moderates too), and a wise man would take the bet that Republicans will huddle together under the same miserable umbrella come Thursday…especially when the alternative is losing face to Democrats and undermining a president who could, with time, make their wildest policy dreams come true.
That said, a few Freedom Caucus members are still hemming and hawing, and undoubtedly holding out for further concessions from Ryan. Still, Trump has managed to convert at least a dozen House members to a “yes” since last week, and he plans to speak with moderate Republicans today—many of whom are concerned about the 24 million Americans who will lose health insurance under the plan.
The drama builds…if the ACHA passes on Thursday, it will then proceed to the Senate for possible further amendments and a second vote.