It’s a showdown for President Trump. He’s given Congress an ultimatum, to pass his health care bill, or face the wrath of angry voters. And many republican lawmakers, like President Trump himself, ran on platforms promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Earlier today, following intense negotiations, the President, who presents himself as a master negotiator, failed to convince enough members of the House’s conservative Freedom Caucus to pledge to vote for the new plan, forcing House Republicans to cancel Thursday’s vote. Since Thursday was the seventh anniversary of Obamacare’s inception, this turned a planned victory into an embarrassment, and a potential defeat.
According to the President, this may be the last opportunity for congress to repeal Obamacare, which is anathema to conservative republicans. But many of the government’s most conservative politicians find the replacement plan too similar to Obamacare. They claim to prefer fewer required benefits and less mandated coverage, which they say frees insurance companies to create plans that meet the needs of consumers, and empowers consumers to find the plan that’s right for them, without unnecessary and costly features.
However, democrats fear this will give insurance companies cart blanche to create inadequate plans, saving themselves money, but leaving consumers without adequate protection in the process. The plan has also been criticized for potentially leaving over 20 million people uninsured. And this would follow years during which Obamacare greatly reduced the number of uninsured people throughout the United States.
Now President Trump, the negotiator, has brazenly called for an end to negotiations. He demands a vote on Friday. Is this a clever strategy, or a poor and arrogant decision for the President? Freedom Caucus Republicans are not his servants. They are fiercely independent, and ideologically extreme. Many believe they are freeing the people, by taking away a requirement for government mandated healthcare, which they view as a kind of unconstitutional burden (which the Supreme Court, it’s important to note, does not.)
By attempting to force their hand, he may not get the results he hopes for. It’s a big, high stakes gamble for President Trump. His success in this matter would do a lot to quell concerns over the many concerns over his competence, rationality, and efficacy, and the integrity of his administration. A failure would exacerbate his many problems, and represent a failure to achieve one of his primary campaign objectives.