Tag Archives: AHCA

Hard to keep track of what Trump likes, loathes

If you’re keeping tabs on the president’s tweets and assorted public statements, then you’ve got your hands full.

When the U.S. House of Representatives approved its American Health Care Act by the narrowest of margins, Donald J. Trump called the GOP-authored-and-passed bill “spectacular.”

Then he tweeted that it is “mean.”

Then tweeted about the draft U.S. Senate plan — again crafted solely by Republicans. He says now, with a vote scheduled for later this week, that the Senate plan is far better than the House plan.

OK, Mr. President. We keep hearing how you make decisions based on the last person to have your attention. Which of these plans is the suitable replacement for the Affordable Care Act, which you once said would be “easy” to replace, but now you say is “hard”?

I cannot begin to possibly keep up with this guy’s ever-evolving stance — on anything and everything!

CBO verdict: Not good for GOP repeal of ACA

A jury — if not the jury — has weighed in on the Republicans’ version of health care reform.

It doesn’t look good for legislation designed to replace the Affordable Care Act.

The verdict comes from the notably non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which says that under the GOP plan 23 million Americans will lose their health insurance by 2026. That’s a 1 million-person “improvement” over the bill that didn’t even get a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The latest version of Trumpcare got a vote, but it came before the CBO weighed in with its analysis of it. Hey, why wait when you’ve got a political agenda to fulfill?

Deficit reduction? It’s not as good as the initial bill. Again, House members didn’t bother to wait for the nitty-gritty before sending it to the Senate.

Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans all promised — pledged, crossed their hearts and swore on a stack of Bibles — that Americans wouldn’t lose their health insurance if the GOP replaced the Affordable Care Act with something of their own making. The ACA, of course, was President Barack Obama’s signature piece of domestic legislation, which of course is why congressional Republicans want to get rid of it.

They contend it is failing. The president calls it a “disaster.” After the failed vote on the initial repeal/replacement bill, the president said he was willing to wait for the ACA to collapse, leaving Americans in the health-care lurch. I guess he wanted to say “I told you so.”

The Hill reports: “Over time, it would become more difficult for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly,” the report said.

The ACA repeal effort was shoved down Democratic House members’ throats, much in the manner the GOP said of the ACA’s enactment in 2010. Hey, turnabout is fair play … isn’t that the name of the game?

It still stinks.

Trump at war … with conservatives in GOP!

Conservative Republicans should have known what they were getting when they stood firmly behind their party’s presidential nominee in 2016.

They were backing a guy who didn’t understand them, didn’t understand how to legislate, didn’t grasp the degree to which they would run through brick walls to get their way.

So, when Donald Trump hooked up with congressional GOP leaders — comprising a few moderates here and there along with some notable conservatives — on a cobbled-together health care overhaul, the Freedom Caucus bolted.

The caucus opposed the American Health Care Act. It spoke as one. The president couldn’t deliver.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. It does kind of make me chuckle, too, to see the president get his head handed to him by a group of zealots who want the ACA tossed into the crapper.

But now the president has all but declared war against the Freedom Caucus. I believe this open warfare might doom whatever passes for Trump’s legislative agenda for, oh, the foreseeable future.

Trump is a RINO to many conservatives anyway. RINO, of course, means Republican In Name Only and it’s not altogether clear what precisely informs any public policy that pops into the president’s noggin.

The biggest surprise to me was that conservatives would stand with this candidate to begin with, given his bizarre personal marital history, his acknowledged groping of women, the manner in which he spoke to — and about — his more conservative GOP primary opponents. Whenever I hear Trump talk openly about matters important to social conservatives, one word keeps popping into my head: panderer.

Thus, I shouldn’t be surprised that the president would stake his agenda on cooperation with anyone other than the Freedom Caucus.

He’s not one of them. They certainly do not follow his lead.

The battle, therefore, is joined.

The buck still stops in the Oval Office … doesn’t it?

There once was a time when presidents of the United States took the heat when things went badly.

President Harry Truman had that sign on his Oval Office desk that declared “The Buck Stops Here.” He knew, for example, that his firing of Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur from his command post in Korea would be political dynamite at home. But he did so anyway as a statement of support of civilian authority over the military.

President John F. Kennedy fell on his grenade in 1961 when the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba — which sought to overthrow Fidel Castro  — went badly. He told us that “Victory has a thousand fathers while defeat is an orphan.” He took responsibility for the failure of the mission.

Other presidents have assumed responsibility for missteps, mishaps and outright tragedy.

The current president is not wired that way. Donald John Trump’s first and last instinct is to blame others.

The commando raid in Yemen in which a brave Navy SEAL died was the fault of the “generals” who put the mission together, Trump said.

Then came the failed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump is not taking a lick of responsibility for the failure to cobble together a political alliance that would institute something called the American Health Care Act.

Oh, no! He said first it was the fault of Democrats who didn’t sign on at all with the AHCA. Then it became the fault of the conservative Freedom Caucus of the House GOP. After that, the president tossed a barb at Republican moderates who hated the AHCA as well.

Where, oh where is the president’s responsibility?

Leaders step up when matters go awry, just as they bask in the reflected glory when matters go well. They take the bad along with the good.

If only the current president could actually lead. He simply cannot fulfill a basic tenet of the office he occupies.

Presidents Truman and Kennedy are spinning in their graves.

Trump is no Obama as a negotiator

Donald J. Trump’s reputation as a first-class “dealmaker” is now in shambles. It’s been trampled by his own ego and his own petulance.

The deal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act became a victim of the president’s inability and unwillingness to even talk to Democrats. Let’s forget for a moment that the replacement bill couldn’t get enough Republican votes in the House to approve it. It was cobbled together virtually overnight, in secret, by Republican congressional leaders who handed it to a president who didn’t know — or care — about the details it contained.

How did the ACA come into being?

Its author, President Barack Obama, sought out congressional Republican leaders. One of them happened to be now-Speaker Paul Ryan, who at the time was chairman of the House Budget Committee. He sought out Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would become majority leader in the upper chamber. He talked to Republicans and implored them to come up with a better plan than the one he and his administration had assembled.

The GOP didn’t budge. The president then was left to rely on his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate to approve the ACA. They did. Republicans howled about having the bill “shoved down our throats.”

What happened this past week bears little resemblance to what happened in 2010. What the current president and the current speaker sought to do was foist a bill on the public that didn’t have the support of most members within their own political party.

There. That’s my take on it.

Do not believe the baloney that Donald Trump is a master “dealmaker.” He’s nothing of the kind. The president has been schooled by politicians who don’t like being bullied.

Trump told us that “I, alone” can repair the things he said need to be fixed. No sir. You alone cannot.


I want to share with you a hilariously astute column by one of the best columnists in America. The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd has peeled the bark off the president, someone she says she knows quite well.

Dowd speaks a blunt, brutal truth in her “letter” to the president of the United States.

Where have you gone, Ivanka and Jared?

It turns out that the president of the United States reportedly is angry that two of his “key advisers” were absent during the run-up to the historic non-vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Donald J. Trump is none too happy about it at that!

The advisers? Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.

Where were they? They were on a ski vacation. They were absent from the negotiation that took place between Daddy POTUS and his new best friend, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and those stubborn House of Representatives conservatives who torpedoed the legislation.

Here is the Big Question: What on Earth could either of these individuals have done to persuade balky congressmen and women to change their votes? Must anyone remind the president that Ivanka and Jared are political novices, as is the president of the United States himself?

There. I just did remind him. Not that he’ll even see this gentle rhetorical jab, let alone take it to heart.

Ivanka has just acquired a West Wing office, where she’ll work as a sort of unofficial adviser with no specific job description; nor will she draw a federal salary. Kushner already is the president’s point man on U.S.-Israel relations and reportedly plans to play a key role in searching for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Are either of them skilled political operatives? Are they experts on health care, on the ACA or on the failed bill to replace it, the American Health Care Act? Do they even have any relationships with congressional naysayers? Umm. Nope.

What could they have done to affect the outcome? Maybe it’s just me, but my hunch is that it would have been not a damn thing!

So, they took a trip to the mountains to ski and enjoy each other’s company.

Dad didn’t need their “help” in scuttling this bill. He and the speaker did a fine job of it all by themselves.

Oh! And that’s a good thing.

Who works for whom in Washington?

Donald Trump thought he could strong-arm congressional Republicans into doing his bidding.

He wanted them to enact a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. GOP lawmakers — namely the more conservative members of their caucus — weren’t budging. Why? I believe it’s because they knew something that the president doesn’t understand: They work for their constituents; they do not work for the president.

When I heard today that Trumpcare went down in flames, I flashed back to another time, in an another era, when another lawmaker decided to stick it in the ear of his congressional leadership.

I recalled former U.S. Rep. Larry Combest, a Republican from Lubbock, who once defied the speaker of the House of Representatives who wanted Combest to back some legislation that he just couldn’t support.

It occurred in the late 1990s. Combest represented a largely rural West Texas congressional district that ran from southern Amarillo all the way to the Permian Basin.

GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich was pushing something called Freedom to Farm, a dramatic overhaul of national farm policy. If memory serves, Freedom to Farm would have drastically reduced the amount of subsidies the government gave to farmers and ranchers to help them through difficult years. We get those kinds of seasons in West Texas, as you might know. Drought has this way of inhibiting dryland farmers’ ability to harvest crops; such a lack of moisture also restricts the amount of grain that ranchers use to feed their livestock.

Gingrich pushed Combest hard to back Freedom to Farm. Combest resisted. He finally voted against Freedom to Farm.

Combest was left to remind the speaker that he didn’t work for congressional leaders. He answered to the farmers and ranchers who elected him to Congress. These folks back home would suffer from Freedom to Farm and Combest wasn’t about to let them down.

I applauded Combest at the time, remarking in an editorial — and also in a couple of signed columns — that he showed guts by defying his congressional leadership and standing up for his constituents.

Congressional Republicans today don’t work for the president. They answer to their constituents at home, the folks whose votes upon which these lawmakers depend. They hate the GOP alternative to the ACA and let their congressmen and women know it in no uncertain terms. Democrats hate it, too.

That is how representative democracy works, Mr. President.

Just ask Larry Combest.

So many lessons to learn from health care failure

Where in this world does one start to sort through the wreckage created by the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with … something else?

Most of know the story by now. Donald J. Trump got elected president and promised to “repeal and replace” the ACA. Congressional Republicans, having retained control of both legislative chambers, finally had a president on their side. Repeal and replacement were slam dunks.

Or so they thought.

Then they cobbled together something that didn’t pass conservative and progressive muster. They couldn’t round up the votes to repeal the ACA, let alone approve something called the American Health Care Act.

Arm-twisting, threats and last-second negotiation resulted in the president’s first major legislative failure. House  Speaker Paul Ryan — a partner with the president on this fiasco — canceled the vote today.

Lessons learned here? Let’s take a peek at some of them.

* Trump bitched today at the White House that he had “no Democrat votes.” Really! He said that out loud to a room full of “enemy of the people” reporters. Well, irony apparently isn’t something that’s on Trump’s radar. President Obama didn’t have a single Republican vote when he got Congress to enact the ACA in 2010; but he damn sure tried to get some GOP support.

* Trump campaigned for the presidency on his record as a take-no-prisoners business mogul. He had no public service experience prior to running for president. His whole adult life had been geared toward personal enrichment. Then he discovered something about politics: It is that politicians have their own constituencies to worry about. If the voters who elect them don’t like what they’re doing, they have this annoying habit of voting them out of office.

Congressional Republicans didn’t like the AHCA because their voters back home didn’t like it. Do you get that, Mr. President? Your Republican colleagues don’t work for you; they work for the citizens in their congressional districts and in their states.

This ain’t reality TV, Mr. President. Politics is practiced by those who know what the hell they’re doing. Just because you’re the president doesn’t mean you get your way whenever you demand something of others.

* The ACA isn’t perfect. I’ll concede that along with anyone with half a brain. But as Speaker Ryan conceded today, it is “the law of the land.” Here’s a thought for the speaker and for the president: Why not try to tinker with the ACA? Fix what’s most egregiously wrong with it. If premiums are costing too much, find a method to cap them. If Americans are having trouble finding medical care within certain networks, find a way to streamline the process.

Throwing out a landmark health insurance overhaul simply because it was the creation of a president from the “other” party isn’t smart. What’s more, the ACA is patterned after a plan adopted in Massachusetts, which at the time was governed by a real Republican, Mitt Romney; you remember him, correct? The ACA in fact has Gov. Romney’s fingerprints all over it.

Ryan said today that “doing big things is hard.” No kidding, Mr. Speaker. Barack Obama learned that lesson, too. Indeed, as Vice President Joe Biden once said, “This is a big f****** deal.”

So … the Affordable Care Act remains on the books. Now the president and Congress can turn their attention to something else.

I just hope there aren’t more screw-ups on the horizon.

Will the ‘system’ swallow POTUS whole?

This fantasy keeps ricocheting around my noggin. Here’s how it goes.

Donald J. Trump sold himself as a no-nonsense, kick-butt business mogul who brooked no foolishness from anyone. Then he got elected president and learned that “I alone” cannot repair what he said is wrong with the country.

He set out to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act and then ran smack into the buzzsaw otherwise known as the House Freedom Caucus, whose members hate the cooked-up alternative to the ACA. Democrats hate it, too, as much as they hate the president.

If the ACA repeal fails today, does that signal the start of a string of failures for a man who told us over and over that he never seemed to fail at anything?

What, then, happens when he cannot enact tax reform, or get the wall built on our southern border, or institute an infrastructure rebuilding program?

What happens if he can’t “destroy ISIS” all by himself? What happens if he keeps getting stern resistance from those on the far right — who don’t trust him anyway — as well as those on the left who are still steamed that he got elected president in the first place?

My fantasy is that Trump might decide the fight ain’t worth it. He’ll call Vice President Pence into the Oval Office and tell the veep, “Mike, take it away. It’s all  yours, my man. I’m going to take Melania and Barron back to New York and we can vacation to our hearts’ content at Mar-a-Lago and no one will give a crap about how much it costs. Besides, this house in D.C. isn’t nearly as nice as my digs in Florida. I’m outta here.”

Yes, that’s why I call it a fantasy. However, one never knows.

Trump now must get ready to attack other ‘top priorities’

If the Republican plan to overhaul health care fails, the president of the United States will have to face a serious quandary.

Which issue will become his top priority item?

Donald Trump said his first order of business was to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. His effort is now gasping for air. A vote on Friday stands as a now-or-never effort. If it fails, which it appears will occur, he will move on to other matters.

What’s next? Let’s see. Building the wall along our southern border? Renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement? Bringing back all those jobs that have moved offshore to China?

He won’t deal with Russian aggression in Ukraine, Syria or its meddling with the U.S. presidential election. That’s pretty much a given.

Trump, though, will have to pivot rapidly from health care overhaul.

Heaven knows he’s got a full plate of top-drawer issues to handle.

He did refer to the U.S. economy as a “disaster.” Oh, wait! Then he got that great jobs report for February in which non-farm payrolls grew by 235,000 individuals; joblessness fell to 4.7 percent.

And, no-o-o-o, the numbers weren’t cooked.

I am watching all this flailing right along with the rest of the country. The president cannot get his footing. He has been unable to fill many top administrative posts. He must appoint more than 140 federal judges, which is a consequence of Republicans blocking Barack Obama’s efforts to fill those vacancies when he was president.

And then …

We’ve got all those questions about Russian connections with the Trump campaign, the president’s bogus assertion of wiretapping and whether Donald Trump has any idea of just how he intends to actually govern.

Think of it: We’re only at Day 63. My head is spinning.