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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trump's Waterloo?

Back in January when the Republicans in the Senate voted to do the initial work to repeal the ACA, I was incredibly shaken. Even though the vote was taken in the middle of the night, it felt like they were moving really quickly on their dream domestic agenda -- to roll back both the Great Society and the New Deal. It just seemed like there was no one to stop them. Two months later, I'm quite a bit less worried (though way more than I'd like to be). Booman explains why:

In any case, the narrative is going around that Trump’s entire agenda will be imperiled if the congressional GOP doesn’t stop squabbling and get on with stripping health insurance from 24 million people. But, consider how imperiled his agenda is right now, and pay special attention to who is to blame for that.
As a candidate for president, Trump promised that he would work with Congress to pass legislation that would dramatically cut taxes, spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investments, significantly expand school choice and make it easier to afford child care. And he promised he would get started on all that — and six other pieces of legislation — in his first 100 days, according to a “Contract with the American Voter” released shortly before Election Day.
Now past the 50-day mark, only one of those bills — the House GOP health-care plan — has been introduced…
…Other promised 100-day bills included a sweeping crackdown on immigration, including a southern border wall paid for by Mexico; a new system of tariffs to discourage companies from relocating abroad; and reforms aimed at reducing “the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.” No such measures have been introduced.
As far as I can tell, the U.S. Senate isn’t inclined to enact Trump’s tariff plan and they don’t seem too keen on paying for the Mexican border wall since the Mexicans were supposed to pony up for that. The immigration crackdown is being done by executive order, and that’s tied up in court. And I haven’t heard a peep about a lobbying or ethics bill. 

Back in 2009 when Obamacare was originally going through Congress, then-Senator Jim Demint (R-SC) said this:

"Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people," DeMint predicted, adding that "this health care issue Is D-Day for freedom in America."
"If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him," he said.

Eight years and tens of millions of Americans with health insurance later, we know how that turned out. But, of course, the Republicans have their chance to roll it all, or at least most of it back, and I find myself wondering if the next Obamacare vote (or lack of it) is pivotal in determining the fate of the rest of the Republican domestic agenda, at least until after the midterm elections. Not only might Trump not be able to get his tariff or the border wall through; if the Republicans can't repeal Obamacare, I don't see them being able to touch Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, or other crucial safety net programs that Republicans hate. And even as far as their foreign policy agenda, well, this happened about an hour ago:

A federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Donald Trump's new travel ban on Wednesday afternoon, hours before the ban was set to go into effect.
The practical effect of the ruling -- which applies nationwide -- means that travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees will be able to travel to the US.

 Trump is, of course, super sanguine, composed, and mature about this:

Trump decried the ruling during a rally Wednesday night in Nashville, introducing his statement as "the bad, the sad news."
"The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first one," Trump said.
"This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach," he added.

I don't think he's helping his case.

Back to Obamacare, the Republicans really shot themselves in the foot by not having a repeal bill ready to go in January, they gave enough time for the public to become aware of the Republicans' true intentions and to focus on what's actually in the bill now, and also for Congressional Republicans to fear for their electoral lives as a consequence of a repeal.

I'm not ready to gloat; in fact, no matter what happens, I don't see myself gloating much until November 2018, at best. But it is very fair to say that Jim DeMint wasn't that far off -- Obamacare might prove to be someone's Waterloo, but it won't be Obama's.

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