Speaking with Frank Rich at the NY Mag, Alex Carp outlines why Trumpcare is essentially finished, no matter what plays out over the next few weeks:
But let’s say this bill does limp its way to the Senate. There, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are lying in wait to trash it as Obamacare Lite and to beat back any attempts by anxious Republican senators in purplish states to moderate its impact on the millions of voters who will lose their health care if it’s enacted. If anything resembling the House bill does make it through the Senate and on to Trump’s desk to be signed into law, it’s a public-health disaster for America, and most especially for the lower-income and older Americans who voted for Donald J. Trump, whose health care will be disproportionately disrupted compared to Clinton voters.
The other route to catastrophe is happier, in that it won’t have the real-life outcome of throwing patients out on the street: If “repeal and replace” dies after seven years of relentless GOP promises that it was a done deal as soon as the party gained power, so does the credibility of the president and the congressional leadership alike. Forget about Trump’s grand plans (actually more boasts than plans) to rebuild America’s infrastructure while rewarding the rich with tax cuts. If a president with a 37 percent Gallup approval rating fails to win his first major legislative test, the blood is in the water. We’re in for months of gridlock — perhaps stretching to the 2018 midterms — a miracle in its way for those who want Trump governance (or non-governance) stopped in its tracks. The possibility that Trump might yet strangle his own presidency in its crib is enough to get one out of bed these days.
It is impossible to know exactly how this will all play out, but my suspicion is that Carp is exactly right -- there is no way Trump comes out of this with any credibility whatsoever. He either passes an even worse version of the shitty bill he just introduced, or sticks with Obamacare. Both scenarios will completely wreck his already disastrous credibility, and he can look forward to being a lame duck president until 2020. There's an enormous amount of damage he can still do while in office (the President still has a lot of power to act unilaterally when it comes to foreign policy), but he'll hate every minute of it and spend more time golfing in Florida. This is a win-win situation for the American public as the less time he spends being president, the better off the country is.
Trump gambled his whole presidency on repealing Obamacare, and now he's staring into the abyss, realizing he must make good on his promise. Which of course, he can't.