On Wednesday, the Trump administration and the speaker of the House both admitted what everyone has known for a while: The Affordable Health Care Act certainly won’t pass both houses of Congress in its current form, and that even getting it through the House is going to be a challenge. Ryan, who had been treating the bill as a final bill, put his tail between his legs, according to Politico:
After weeks of suggesting that only minor modifications would be acceptable, Ryan told reporters his team would incorporate changes to their proposal this week. His suggestion came as his Republican whip operation tested the initial support for the House measure among the GOP conference. Meanwhile, members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus declared that they believed they had enough commitments from their own allies to kill any attempt by Republican leaders to ram through the current bill without significant changes. They said that they intend to present to leadership an amendment on Friday that they say could unite conservatives and moderates.
Ryan and Mike Pence have less than a week to sell a revised bill to lawmakers, which won’t be easy, given that no one seems to agree about exactly what this bill should do. Republicans know that their constituents want what Trump promised, which is lower costs and better coverage, but there’s no way to square that with the kinds of solutions that Ryan and the Freedom Caucus are proposing. But because Republicans plan on repealing and replacing Obamacare through reconciliation they pretty much have only one chance to get things right—any further step would require 60 votes in the Senate.
One thing that would make passing the AHCA significantly easier would be if Donald Trump became personally involved. But that’s not going to happen. Talking to disingenuous bow tie Tucker Carlson on Fox News on Wednesday, Trump admitted that the AHCA screws over some of his voters. When asked about the fact that the AHCA helps the well-off and hurts those in poorer counties that voted for Trump, he said: “It’s very preliminary. A lot of things aren’t consistent [with my promises to help people who voted for me]. But these are going to be negotiated. We’ve got to go to the Senate. I’m an arbitrator. ... We’ve got a lot of fighting going on.”
Not only did Trump throw the House bill under the bus, the “arbitrator” line here suggests that Trump will not take responsibility for the bill that will likely be the most important part of his first-term legacy. Even with the AHCA on the brink, Trump is refusing to step up and lead on health care. Instead, he’s signaling that that’s Paul Ryan’s job—and that Ryan is doing it badly.