Mr. Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan's plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans. [...]To Mr. Trump and his team, the health care repeal is a troublesome stepchild. His son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who is vacationing with his family in Aspen this week, has said for days that the bill was a mistake to support.
In about six hours, House Republicans will vote on a wildly unpopular health care bill. They won't have a CBO score; they won't know how much the bill costs; they won't know how many Americans will lose their health benefits if the bill becomes law; and they won't know how many Senate Republicans will even consider it.That said, House GOP lawmakers will know that Donald Trump's White House expects them to vote for it -- because the president is fully on board with the legislation.Or is he? There's a fair amount of evidence this morning that Team Trump isn't just expecting defeat when the House bill reaches the floor later today; it's also preemptively distancing itself from this fiasco. The New York Times reported this morning, for example:
Soon after, we learned that White House strategist Stephen Bannon is reportedly displeased with the current Republican bill because it doesn't "drive down costs."CNBC's John Harwood also spoke to a senior White House aide this morning who said the president is already preparing to "walk away" from health care and take on the "next battle," which the aide said will be tax cuts. The same White House staffer said a decisive health care defeat today would work out well for Team Trump.Given all of this, MSNBC's Chris Hayes asked this morning, "Um, is the White House now whipping against the bill?"Chris was probably kidding, but it's hardly an outlandish question under the circumstances.The context of the preemptive spin obviously matters: Team Trump wants to manage expectations and avoid as much blame as possible if this fiasco ends in defeat. We heard similar talk from Trump aides in early November, when they were making excuses for losing the election.That is, right before they won the election.But none of this is happening in a vacuum. There are very likely many House Republicans who are, right now, making up their minds about how they'll vote. Instead of a push from GOP leaders about what a great piece of legislation this is -- is there anyone in the United States capable of offering a substantive case in support of the bill on the merits? -- these members are watching the White House quietly slink away from the plan, while the burgeoning debate about blame begins in earnest.In other words, House Republicans who aren't 100% certain about what they should do are implicitly being told there's no point in voting "yes."