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Obamacare wins again; Thanks, Mr. Trump

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Third, President Trump is too inexperienced in government and too clueless about how Capitol Hill works to provide the leadership and arm-twisting that get important bills passed. That has left even more heavy lifting for McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan without much help from the president, beyond his cheerleading tweets.

Also, let's face it: The Republicans have not had their heart in this fight. Health care has long been a top agenda item for Democrats in the way that tax cuts are for Republicans.

That's why the GOP health care bills, short on spending and long on tax cuts, have looked more like tax reform legislation than health care bills.

But, after making ACA repeal a top priority, Republicans own the health care issue now, whether they like it or not.

That's particularly embarrassing now for GOP leaders. Even with control of the White House and Congress the Trump-era GOP has yet to send up a major piece of legislation for President Trump's signature.

Obamacare repeal now joins Trump's proposed tax code overhaul, his proposed "trillion-dollar infrastructure" and his proposed Mexican border wall among major promises that currently are stalled.

What next? Trump's morning tweets struggled to put a smiley face on the GOP's catastrophe -- and throw a little blame on Democrats. "We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans," he tweeted. "Most Republicans were loyal, terrific and worked really hard. We will return!"

"Let down?" As if he really had some reason to expect help from the Democrats in dismantling Obama's signature legislation? Maybe now Trump knows how Obama felt after Republicans boycotted the ACA's original passage.

Having failed at the repeal-and-replace approach, McConnell briefly proposed repeal-and-delay. He floated the idea of bringing the House-passed bill up for consideration "in the coming days" and amending it with a full repeal -- and a two-year delay for implementation.

At least three Republican senators said they wouldn't support that path, though, and it was dropped Tuesday. McConnell can say, again, "Well, we tried."

Right. His best chance is if he genuinely reaches out to Democrats, whom he has threatened to approach if he doesn't get enough cooperation from his fellow Republicans. Obama and other Democratic leaders have said all along that the ACA needs improving, not repeal. No argument there. What's hard to imagine is actual bipartisan cooperation in today's divided Congress. Still, it's worth a try.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2017 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

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