We have confirmed everything we need to know about Donald J. Trump. “Wins” are all that matter. He’d rather 32 million people lose health insurance than not “win.” Or 22 million. Or 16 million. Everything for Trump is about “wins,” not legislating or working for the benefit of the country.
For the second or third or fourth time in four months, the GOP healthcare bill died a slow public death. This time it was courtesy of Sen. John McCain’s dramatic “thumbs-down.” Last week’s public death is similar to what would have happened to millions of Americans if that bill, or any version of it, passed.
For all of Trump’s need for “wins,” the big takeaway from the last few weeks is how easily he folds when faced with having to negotiate or persuade. Throughout the process of trying to pass any version of healthcare through the Senate, Trump barely got involved. Unlike his predecessor, he took a completely hands-off approach to pushing his signature legislation through beyond tweets. He barely pushed for it during those heartland pep rallies he loves or when offending the Boy Scouts of America. Remember that New York Times interview when he had no idea when an important vote would be?
TRUMP: Well, I say, let’s not vote on repeal. Let’s just vote on this. So first, they vote on the vote. And that happens sometime Friday?
HABERMAN: Next week.
Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, ‘I want my insurance.’ It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of.
$12 a year! A nice plan at 70! He sure is the smartest man in the room, someone who knows “a lot about healthcare.” Read the full transcript of that Times interview. Think of what transpired in the last few days. Have a strong drink at hand.
Last March, Trump congratulated himself in the Rose Garden when a version of the American Health Care Act finally passed the House. He clearly hadn’t bothered to read the bill that he was celebrating. An avid watcher of cable news, once he saw that millions would lose their health insurance — or wouldn’t cover pre-existing conditions — suddenly the bill was “mean.”
This man’s bucket of political capital is now empty. He has no sway, no influence, in the halls of Congress. He claims to be a master deal maker and had books ghostwritten in his name extolling his greatness in everything, yet his deal-making prowess is nowhere to be found or else fails him spectacularly. He is — bigly — a sad (sad!) negotiator. He can’t understand why legislators don’t listen to him, why they don’t blindly do what he wants. He doesn’t realize that governing isn’t like private business where he gets the last word and everyone scrambles to meet his demands. He will learn this, ultimately. The ugly way.
And when he folds, he folds bigly — not like a winner, but a loser in a cheap, made-in-China, Trump-brand suit. He is tough only at rallies. When face to face with actual adversaries, his tactics are dinner, threats and Twitter rages before giving up. He has no stamina. When Speaker of the House and Trump supporter Paul Ryan had so little confidence in getting enough House Republicans to vote yea on that early version of TrumpCare that he initially pulled the bill. Trump’s spun it as if pulling the bill was the right thing to do. “The best thing that could happen is exactly what happened — watch,” he warned. “Obamacare unfortunately will explode… It’s going to have a very bad year.”
In this, of course, Trump is correct: it will be a very bad year because our federal government is in the process of ignoring its financial obligations to insurance companies. And as insurance companies sense instability, they will pull out of the market, causing people to lose their insurance anyway. But hey, Trump is “winning,” so his base will be thrilled — even if they’re too sick, dying or dead to show it. Arguably, it’s a dwindling base, and maybe one doesn’t want to believe that Trump doesn’t care about those millions of people who, having lost their insurance, will get sick, sicker, or actually die. Trump’s supporters are OK with Trump killing them. What’s the health of millions to this man but a new toy he barely plays with and then, after it broke, tosses it without a second thought?
Since that party in the Rose Garden, there were several stunning Senate defeats on healthcare, but not as stunning as McCain’s middle-of-the-night “no.” To anyone who actually read any version of any of the bills, they were clearly total losers (Trump’s favorite insult!). Had Trump bothered to read it, he’d have understood why conservatives felt the proposals don’t go far enough to stop government money from flowing to states, as Obamacare provides, let alone stop the regulations that Obamacare requires. If Trump actually knew anything at all, he’d know that Sen. Ted Cruz wanted insurance companies to offer policies that didn’t need to cover maternity care or mental health or emergency services. Every version, every approach, was loser, loser, loser. Not “wins,” “wins,” “wins.”
Maybe if Trump had his aides draw some “killer” graphics, charts and connect-the-dot pictures, he’d have also realized that Republican moderates, few as they are, would never let the Medicaid expansion to leave millions of people uninsured. If he had any insight into the party of which he is the leader, he’d know that all sides are so polarized, they’re paralyzed.
Republicans know Trump does not care, which gives them something in common. What doesn’t help is how Trump spurns the work that comes with being President. The optics of his “wins” are more important to him than any actual legislation.
Trump is so disconnected from the whole process that he invited senators who were already “yea” on AHCA to dine at the White House. Nothing like wining and dining the people who think you’re headed for more “wins,” right?
What a shock when Trump, earlier on in the healthcare debate, was completely blindsided by two more Senators defecting:
I was very surprised when the two folks came out last night… We thought they were in fairly good shape.
Those were Republican stalwart senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas (Kansas!), who said (at the time) that they wouldn’t even vote to bring a bill to the Senate floor. That should have been a wakeup call to stop playing golf each weekend and start getting to know who represents your base.
But that’s not Trump’s style. He just wants his “wins.” Details on how? Ask his lackeys. Ask the vulgar Mooch. Trump himself? He does very little work. Said one activist who met with Trump at the White House, “Trump told us months ago we could just let [Obamacare] blow up and blame the Democrats.” Then, in the Times Interview (really you must read this) he again expresses his hope for Obamacare to utterly fail so he can claim a “win.” If you can understand more than 50% of what he is saying in that interview, call Jeff Foxworthy because you’re smarter than a fifth grader.
Trump slings petulant 140-character tantrums without a single thought to anyone adversely affected by their lack of access to healthcare. That man is President.
Trump seems to believe that letting Obamacare fail will take just weeks — at which point the Democrats will do a face-palm and embrace Trumpcare. Not going to happen. What our criminal-in-chief doesn’t realize is that letting Obamacare fail by cutting off the payments to the insurance companies will be a slow drip, drip of death. It will take many months of watching one insurance company after another leave the market and people losing their insurance because their providers left the market. In other words, he won’t kill 16, 22 or 32 million people at once. He’ll torture them slowly. How many “wins” does that equal?
Trump has visions of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi caving to the pressure of his extraordinary deal making. But they know Trump is a loser. Most people do. The only people who don’t know this consist of Trump, his base and his co-conspirators in the White House.