President Trump is pushing Congress toward another dramatic showdown over the Affordable Care Act, despite big outstanding obstacles to a beleaguered revision plan and a high-stakes deadline next week to keep the government running.The fresh pressure from the White House to pass a revision was met with skepticism by some Capitol Hill Republicans and their aides, who were recently humiliated when their bill failed to reach the House floor for a vote and who worry now that little has changed to suggest a new revision would fare any better.
In its latest national poll, released this week, Quinnipiac asked respondents an interesting question: "Do you think that Republicans in Congress should try to repeal and replace Obamacare again, or do you think they should move on to other issues?"The results weren't close: only 36% of the public wants GOP lawmakers to keep trying, while 60% want Republicans to move on. What's more, the results were quite broad: men and women, people of different education levels, people of every age group, people of different races and ethnicities all said they don't want to see the repeal effort to continue.And yet, Donald Trump, who said last month that he's prepared to move on, now insists he's not moving on. The Washington Post reported:
The president, referring to proposed changes to the GOP's existing American Health Care Act, told reporters yesterday, "The plan gets better and better and better, and it's gotten really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot."Like so much of what Trump says, there's no reason to believe any of this. In fact, let's take these two points one at a time.Is the plan getting "better and better and better"? Well, no. Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) have reportedly worked on an amendment that would restore essential health benefits that already exist in the ACA into the Republican alternative, while targeting a "community rating" provision that would hurt Americans with pre-existing conditions.The rest of the GOP plan -- slashing Medicaid, cutting taxes on the wealthy, leaving millions of families without coverage -- would remain effectively the same. A variety of adjectives come to mind, but "better" isn't one of them.Is this a plan "a lot of people are liking ... a lot"? Again, no. Putting aside the fact that there's no reason to believe Trump has any idea what's actually in the latest iteration of the proposal, there's no new groundswell of Republican support for this. On the contrary, GOP leaders are downplaying the possibility that it'll even be considered.The broader question is why in the world Trump and his allies are so desperate to revive an awful bill, which no one likes, and which has already humiliated the party once. The answer appears to have something to do with the president's fragile ego.The White House said yesterday the House may vote on the new-and-not-improved GOP bill as early as Wednesday -- the day after Congress returns from its two-week spring break. Why the rush? Part of it is because Team Trump wants to act before lawmakers can hear from the Congressional Budget Office and terrified constituents, but the other part is the looming/arbitrary 100-day deadline. Trump seems to realize presidents' first 100 days -- for good or ill -- represent a highly scrutinized metric, and this president has very little to show for his efforts.If he can push a health care bill through the House -- a bill he hasn't read and doesn't understand -- Trump seems to think he'll be able to boast, "See how great my first 100 days have been"?Of course, trying to legislate this way is as pathetic as it is dangerous, and there's little to suggest GOP lawmakers are prepared to put themselves at risk, simply to satisfy a symbolic goal intended to make Trump feel better about himself. This endeavor, after all, isn't about you; it's about him.Complicating matters, there's a government-shutdown deadline a week from today, and when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week, they're going to have to work quickly to keep the lights on. The president, with no real understanding of how Congress works, said yesterday that the House should have no trouble avoiding a government shutdown and passing health care legislation over the course of four days."I think we want to keep the government open, don't you agree?" Trump said. "So I think we'll get both."He appears to be the only one to believe this.