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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

The Senate health care bill is dead again after two conservative Republican senators said last night they would not vote to advance the legislation because it does not repeal enough of former President Barack Obama’s signature health law. As GOP leaders scramble to find a new tactic that will allow them to strip health insurance from millions while slashing taxes for the wealthy, President Donald Trump’s media supporters have been left grasping for a message.

The original bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assembled through a secretive process and tried to rush through with little public debate, would lead to 22 million more Americans being uninsured at the end of the decade, largely due to cuts to Medicaid; many of those who retain insurance under the bill would pay more for fewer benefits. The bill was amended after the Congressional Budget Office offered that verdict, but the GOP decided not to wait for a new score before moving forward. Democratic senators are universally opposed to the legislation, while the most moderate and conservative Republicans have also refused to sign on, either because it does too much or too little to move away from Obamacare’s improvements to the health care system.

Trump’s propagandists look to him to set the tone for how to respond to bad news. But the message out of the White House has always been incoherent on health care, largely because the president seems to have no real interest in the various, serious policy debates surrounding the future of health insurance for the American people — he just wants a win. In May, the president held a Rose Garden event to celebrate the passage of the House bill, which he described as a “great plan.” Weeks later, he turned around and privately called that legislation “mean.”

That sort of policy incoherence gets in the way of formulating messaging around legislative setbacks. Last night, for instance, Trump tweeted that “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” But that tactical messaging completely ignores the question of what a good health care plan would look like, and whether the Senate bill that just went down in flames met that criteria. Without clearly defined heroes and villains or a clear policy vision, his media allies have been left to their own devices. The noise machine is grinding to a halt.

Absent messaging from the top, here are a few ways the pro-Trump media are responding:

The GOP leadership failed Trump

Most of Trump’s propagandists are of the opinion that Trump cannot fail; he can only be failed. As such, they’ve quickly turned their fire on McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“I know the president is frustrated with the situation. A lot has been promised to him and not much delivered,” Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle said last night. “I think this is a failure on the part of the leadership, to be quite honest. Because they needed to get this to stick and to coalesce and get it done.”

“Second failure for Mitch McConnell,” Steve Doocy added on Fox & Friends this morning, pointing to the bill’s previous collapse last month.

Even Matt Drudge is getting in on the act:

If the Senate bill continues to struggle, and Trump doesn’t publicly support McConnell, we could see calls for his replacement in the near future.

“It was a lousy bill”

Trump’s lack of interest in policy leaves his supporters plenty of room to say that they didn’t like the bill, without creating any dissonance about the fact that the president supported the legislation.

Doocy went after the bill from the start this morning, saying, “Ultimately, what undid this bill is — the one that they are not going to vote on now —  is it was a lousy bill. I mean, it still had big taxes. It still had a lot of regulations. It had that insurance company subsidy slush fund that Rand Paul was talking about. It was not what the American people” wanted. Notably, since Doocy also has little knowledge of or interest in policy, he can’t really say what a good replacement would look like either, simply saying Congress should “get rid of all that stuff and come up with something new.”

“Maybe it’s time to nuclear option things”

One of the problems Senate Republicans faced in trying to push through health care legislation is that because they knew no bill would attract enough Democratic support to overcome a filibuster, they were trying to pass the bill with a 50-vote threshold through the budget reconciliation process. But that process limits what can actually go into the bill, making full repeal of Obamacare extremely difficult.

In order to sidestep that process, the hosts of Fox & Friends are calling for Senate Republicans to deploy the “nuclear option” and eliminate the filibuster altogether, making all votes subject only to a majority vote. It’s unclear how this would help pass a health care bill since Republicans just demonstrated they don’t have 50 votes in the Senate, but this morning Doocy, co-host Brian Kilmeade, and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer all seemed eager to push through that proposal.

A few hours later, Trump, who regularly watches Fox & Friends, chimed in, tweeting, “The Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes. Even parts of full Repeal need 60. 8 Dems control Senate. Crazy!”

Hey look over here!

For some, the best way to get through a crushing defeat for the president is to downplay that it happened.

Time to move on to tax reform

Another option is to give up altogether. That’s the current recommendation of Fox News host Eric Bolling, at least until the president makes clear that he’s sticking with health care.

“Let’s just say this thing fails. They put it off to the side,” he said on this morning’s Fox & Friends. “They screwed up. They failed. You shore up the individual insurance markets. You put it off to the side. Then you take up something that I think every single American, whether you are Democrat, independent, or Republican, can wrap their brain around, tax reform.”

The good news for the pro-Trump media is that tax reform is a very simple issue with few stakeholders and broad agreement in Congress on a way forward. It also helps that the president has learned important lessons from the health care fight about overconfidence in the face of policy fights.

Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

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19 responses to “The Senate Bill On Health Care Imploded, And Pro-Trump Media Is A Mess. Sad!”

  1. old_blu says:

    Well I’m tired of winning already.
    Trump tried to pass Trumpcare. . . . FAILED.
    Trump tried to get Mexico to pay for an ego wall. . . . . FAILED.
    Yeah I really think the Liberals are winning. Good.

    • Yes, we don’t hear that foolish and idiotic refrain from Donald. We’re all so tired of winning—Hah!

    • dpaano says:

      Dom hasn’t been around lately…..I think he’s taking a sabbatical from the political field for a while, and I certainly don’t blame him. You can read these articles and the comments until you just get tired of it all and take a break. I hope he’s taking a well-needed rest and will be back with us soon. We miss his often well-thought out comments!

      • old_blu says:

        I always like reading his well thought out and delivered comments, I hope he’s okay. I haven’t been on here for a few years myself, so I understand.
        I’m pretty sure we’ve met, but if not it’s good to meet you.

  2. FireBaron says:

    It’s kind of a mixed blessing when two Senators say they are not supporting Mitch McConnell’s signature legislation because it is not harsh enough on the public, especially when three other Senators publicly expressed doubts about how passing the legislation could adversely affect around 80% of their states’ populations.

  3. What a lovely mess. What goes around, comes around, or in another way of putting it”'”The chickens are coming home to roost.
    After decades of building up bile in their systems, of obfuscation and obstruction, the GOP is now finding out how blocked their bowels are from so many years of hate and rancor. It goes without saying that hate and anger as motivating factors for behavior and task performance will always lead to failure. And the GOP is showing that in very clear terms.
    And to add insult to injury, Trump sat on his large ass without contribution except hot air and the usual bluster; and has had the nerve, along with Mitch, to propose the current health care system be allowed to die on its own, without having anything to replace what they will undoubtedly hasten i

    • alfred e newman says:

      long winded nonsense communist party health care never worked never will only ran up the national dept and created a lot of unconstitutional laws like the black hitler him self obama only serves to make america a more communist country

      • Dapper Dan says:

        Alfred your obviously clueless and have no idea what your blathering about. President Obama respects this country and the US Constitution something your Orange Hitler doesn’t respect. Trump is the idiot consorting with Russia that truly is still communist even if they don’t call themselves that since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The way we’ve been cyberattacked by Russia and throwing the election to trump right now makes us more of a banana republic. Given enough time we will become a communist country thanks to the traitor sitting in the WhiteHouse

        • dpaano says:

          Some people just NEVER understand, Dan……you can lead them to the truth, but you can’t make them believe it!

        • alfred e newman says:

          no actually because of hypochondriacs like you who would rather spunge off the tax payer and simply not take care of your self absolutely no self respect just give me more charity and more and more i siimply do not care if the tax payer starves pr simply can not pay his own bills i am entitled to suck eerybody dry a brand new car every week ine wiine top surlloin and i simply do not havve to do anything just sit on my fat ass using drugs that the tax payer is stuck paying for along with the maid and the rest of the staff get a job you leach

        • alfred e newman says:

          you are so wrong like every head of state from washington to the black nazi obama dealing with other heads of state even china and russia is their job and obama had 1 and only 1 actual dream a communist america this is why he conspired with the islamics and kissed their asses like he did in his entire rein of terror the only thing the black nazi obama did was everything in his power to destroy the constitution he was by far the worst president in all of american history

  4. alfred e newman says:

    communist party health care never worked never will only gives doctors insurance companies and big drug companies unlimited power funding and power to destroy the constitution and make america a more communist country truly greedy people doing truly evil things

    • Richard Prescott says:

      That is a moebus strip argument if I ever heard one. Oh wait, you’re a troll. OK, I get it.
      Um, do you understand that communist party health care is social medicine with a Russian twist. But no social medicine gives doctors, insurance companies and big drug companies unlimited power. What you describe is what we had before the ACA and what the GOP wants brought back.

      • alfred e newman says:

        no we had free enterprise in communist countries there simply are no insurance companies the government collects the money as taxes and very strictly meters it out to doctors and big drug companies and the government simply gives them no choice or any voice in the government here they screw everybody make outrageous amounts of money and buy senators and congressmen and will do absolutely anything to keep the gravy train running no matter what even the illegal unethical as well as unconstitutional just like big drug companies they want you coming back for more drugs every day they really do not want a cure for anything if you are cured you simply will not need them any more and they simply would not make any money

  5. Dapper Dan says:

    Remember in the debates and Clinton rightfully called trump a puppet ? His juvenile response was saying “I’m not the puppet you’re the puppet” I can’t believe how Fox can so easily play to his emotions suggesting using the nuclear option. Then he chimes in shortly thereafter saying just that. It’s crazy scary how people can say stuff and he then repeats it like a parrot. And to think he claims to have a great brain ????

  6. Richard Prescott says:

    Accept that Trump is a con man. Accept that the GOP saw an opening when they realized Russia was paying Trump (see Ryan’s reveal to McCarthy to shut up about what McCarthy said in a meeting of GOPers). Accept that the GOP has lost command of the ship that they control, they no longer know how to lead or run the country.
    And, laughingly, accept that Fox News has control of Trump’s mind, what is left of it.

    • dpaano says:

      And even FAUX News is starting to realize their mistake and are now not supporting the president as much as they did previously! Do you think that they are finally seeing the light that this president is totally unqualified to be sitting in the Oval Office?

  7. dpaano says:

    First of all, our uninformed pseudo president tried to blame the fall of the current healthcare bill on the Democrats…..probably wasn’t aware that they had NO votes on this bill whatsoever and they had NO input in it at all. Can’t blame them. Now, he’s going to blame McConnell…..interesting….McConnell is an idiot, but he had nothing to do with the fall of the bill. The bottom line is that the bill was crap, the 13-MAN committee was full of it also! This bill, had it been passed, would have been exactly what the Republicans have always said about Obamacare… was pushed through (which Obamacare was not) without any review by committees (it was reviewed by MANY committees prior to being passed), etc. The president has no one to blame but himself….he has yet to realize that the “buck stops” at his desk 24/7 and he is the one to blame for it’s opposition. He gave the Congress NO instructions, no ideas of what exactly he wanted to see in the new bill, and he left it entirely up to them to read his mind! I doubt if he even took the time to read the healthcare bill because, if he had, he would have clearly seen that it was NOTHING like what he promised his many Trumpster voters! I believe he told them they would have a “better plan, more benefits, less deductibles, less cost.” This bill provided NONE of this!

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