Oh, to be a fly on the wall in Paul Ryan’s office right now.
As of late afternoon on Thursday, the gleaming, defiant optimism we’ve heard from Ryan and the White House about their chances of passing the American Health Care Act began to crumble in front of the nation’s eyes. The House vote, scheduled to take place by midnight, was canceled. Not enough votes. The conservative Freedom Caucus? Not budging. Not convinced. Not mollified.
President Trump and other top Republicans spent the majority of the day lobbying on behalf of the bill, but they did not overcome the significant resistance in the GOP rank-and-file.
“We have not gotten enough of our members to get to yes at this point under what we have now,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows said.
But while Meadows was not predicting an immediate turnaround from his caucus, he didn’t indicate that there was no possible way to move forward.
“I would say progress is being made, and that progress should be applauded with the efforts by the White House to deliver on a campaign promise, and to lower premiums for every American from coast to coast and in between,” Meadows said.
Asked by Fox News if he would describe the delayed vote as a failure for President Trump, Meadows said, “Absolutely not.”
Unfortunately, it will play that way in the press, and you can’t expect anything different. It would be the same for any president supporting any major piece of legislation. And Trump, who is still learning the Washington ropes, is going to get his first clear lesson in the difference between campaigning and making law.
By the time this is over and done with, he may also learn a lesson about who is true friends are on Capitol Hill – if there are any. Did this bill really reflect the kind of plan that Trump had in mind? Was this Ryan’s best effort to make Trump’s vision a reality? Why was it rushed out like this?
At this point, it might be better for everyone if they toss this bill in the garbage, start fresh, and focus on simply repealing Obamacare. That’s going to make Ryan and Trump look a little ridiculous, but it would be far preferable to having a failed vote and far, far preferable to passing a terrible bill into law.