Fox News Halftime Report

Should Trump let TrumpCare fail?

The president and the House speaker insisted things were looking good for a vote, despite some conservatives remaining unconvinced; John Roberts has the roundup for 'Special Report'


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On the roster: Should Trump let TrumpCare fail? - Former Trump campaign boss offered to help Putin - Final hurdle for insurance bill ahead of Thursday vote - Thune warns nuclear option is real - Audible: Yes, dear - Oops!

Does it really matter if TrumpCare is any good?

Some would argue that at least at this point, it doesn’t. Count among that number President Trump himself.

He is increasingly focused on the tax cuts he wants Congress to enact and treats the overhaul of former President Obama’s health insurance law as more a matter of necessity – and perhaps annoyance – than opportunity.

The argument basically is that whatever bill Congress eventually gags out on health insurance after a back-and-forth with the Senate, and lots of grisly sausage making, won’t look much like this anyway. And the important thing is to just get some momentum going on the president’s ambitious policy proposals.

That’s not a crazy idea. But it’s also understandable that conservative Republicans would resist the concept knowing that it’s probably all downhill from here for their policy preferences.

It’s not that hard to imagine a scenario where a compromise bill limps out of the House and the Senate with at least some Democratic support and conservatives being left with little to do other than stomp on their hats.

Whatever you think about their opposition to the bill, at least grant them the presupposition of sincerity. Conservatives believe this legislation will hurt people and the country in the long run. And they understand this is their best chance to stop it.

Trump, who is obsessed with winning, and conservatives, who are obsessed with policy, are both acting in what they believe to be rational ways for their own interests.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not both at least partly wrong…

If Trump’s first legislative foray crashes and burns in the House Thursday, his ability to enact the rest of his agenda will be cast into doubt. He is an unpopular, divisive figure, who has also seen his young administration perpetually marred – whether you think fairly or not – by scandal.

A high-profile loss on TrumpCare would not just diminish his perceived power in Washington, but also likely set off a panic among investors who to this point have been irrationally exuberant about the chances for sweeping economic reforms. Surging stocks and consumer confidence would come tumbling down.

If conservatives kill TrumpCare they will in fact have felt a serious blow to the president who holds their only chance for acting on health care or any other policy priority.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that passing it is the right thing to do either.

There is strong reason to believe that TrumpCare will be even less popular than ObamaCare. It is essentially a stingier version of the original. It will be automatically disliked by all Democrats and some Republicans, an intensified inversion of what happened with the 2010 law.

As much as Trump wants a short-term political victory, he could be setting himself up for enormous political pain in 2018 and 2020.

The president warns that Republicans could lose Congress if they don’t pass this bill, but they could also lose it if they do pass it. That’s why so many in Congress are urging Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan to ask for a do-over.

Conservatives’ think that, informed of their concerns, Trump and Ryan should go back to the drawing board and craft new legislation more ambitious in scope and more effective.

There is an alternative, however…

Trump could also just let this measure fail in the House, blame conservative Republicans for obstructionism and just move on. Yes, it would necessitate coming up with some even more cockamamie patch for ObamaCare, but that would come later and be done in a midnight massacre of parliamentary tricks.

If it was good enough for almost every spending bill of the past five years, why not for a short-term bailout of the insurance industry this fall? And assuming that Trump really doesn’t care about the policy specifics here, what is the point of enacting unpopular legislation at all?

Further, if Trump can stick the blame on conservative Republicans for not repealing ObamaCare, he will be off the hook for his campaign promises in this area indefinitely. Ryan’s next demands can be met with raspberries at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, as well. Yes, markets will skid and worries will grow, but better to do it now on an issue Trump cares less about than later when the core of his policies – tax cuts and a trillion-dollar infrastructure stimulus package – are on the line.

If Republicans really don’t care about deficits and are ready to accept the federal government’s obligation to try to provide universal coverage, maybe Trump should just keep the more generous plan propped up for at least another year or so, and, absolved of blame in this matter, simply move on.

What’s the point of being post-ideological if you can’t take advantage of the political upsides? 

“It may safely be received as an axiom in our political system, that the State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 28

History: “On this day in 1894, the first championship series for Lord Stanley’s Cup is played in Montreal, Canada. The Stanley Cup has since become one of the most cherished and recognized trophies in sport. The Stanley Cup was the creation of Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, lord of Preston and the 16th earl of Derby…He served in Canada’s House of Commons from 1865 until he was named governor … Stanley became an ice hockey fan after watching an 1889 game at the Montreal Winter Carnival…In honor of the new sport, Lord Stanley then donated a lavish trophy to the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association…Stanley had intended for the cup to be presented to the winner of a challenge series, or tournament, so in 1894 it was given to the Montreal AAA team upon their defeat of the Ottawa Generals in the championship round of a tournament specifically created to award the Cup as Lord Stanley had intended.”

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AP: “President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests. Manafort proposed in a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that he would influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government, even as U.S.-Russia relations under Republican President George W. Bush grew worse.”

The Hill: “The GOP’s ObamaCare repeal-and-replace plan is just one committee away from a vote on the House floor, where it is far from clear if it has the support to survive. The House Rules panel has taken up the American Health Care Act (AHCA), with discussions and debate expected to last through Wednesday afternoon. The legislation is expected to clear the Rules Committee, but at least 23 Republican members have come out against it, enough to doom the bill in the House. Republicans have submitted more than 20 amendments for consideration, highlighting the divide between conservatives and leadership, though it’s unclear if any will be accepted Wednesday.”

[Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, urges House GOP to cancel health care vote fearing it won’t pass.]

Budget scorekeeper says fewer people insured under replacement than simple repeal - NYT: “The Congressional Budget Office recently said that around 24 million fewer Americans would have health insurance in 2026 under the Republican repeal plan than if the current law stayed in place. That loss was bigger than most experts anticipated, and led to a round of predictable laments from congressional Democrats — and less predictable ones from Republican senators, including Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and John Thune of South Dakota, who told reporters that the bill needed to be ‘more helpful’ to low-income people who wanted insurance. But one piece of context has gone little noticed: The Republican bill would actually result in more people being uninsured than if Obamacare were simply repealed.”

Fox News: “As Senate Democrats float new options for complicating a vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Republicans appear ready to return fire with a bomb of their own – a nuclear one. Top Republican Sen. John Thune, of South Dakota, all but confirmed Wednesday that his party is willing to use what’s known as the ‘nuclear option,’ to lower the vote threshold to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch if Democrats try to filibuster. ‘We will do what is necessary to confirm Judge Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, yes,’ he told Fox News’ Shannon Bream on ‘America’s Newsroom,’ when asked if they’d go that route. Thune, who serves in the No. 3 position in Senate GOP leadership as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, added that Democrats ‘have not laid a glove on him’ in the hearings and predicted the judge would get an ‘affirmative’ vote in the Senate.”

WSJ Editorial Board warns Trump risks becoming a ‘fake president’ if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth -

Trump raises over $30 million at banquet for House Republicans - Politico

Trump to attend NATO summit as first scheduled overseas trip - USA Today

Labor nominee says politics won’t influence hiring in his department -

Money flooding in to Price’s former House seat sets expectations high for Democrats -

Why are so many American men not working? - Atlantic

“I didn’t want this job. I didn’t seek this job. My wife told me I’m supposed to do this.” – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in an interview with IJR.

“​Every President is responsible for the actions of the executive departments of his administration. The Obama FBI was/is surveying the opposition party running against the former President’s party. That’s damning enough.” – Steve Odom, Murfreesboro, Tenn.​

[Ed. note: Well, to be fair Mr. Odom, the FBI was surveilling the candidate of the president’s party too…]

“Thank you so much for devoting time during the most recent episode of I’ll Tell You What to discuss Dana’s recent volunteer work on the Mercy ship. Your articulation of the great need, how we should respond - especially as it relates to those who call ourselves followers of Christ, and the reward and blessing we receive when we choose to serve our fellow man was a refreshing break from the world of politics. (By the way, I LOVE the weekly discussions about food during ITYW and even updates on the diabetic cat.)” – Michael Milligan, Oklahoma City, Okla.

[Ed. note: Torah is an inspiration to us all, Mr. Milligan. His brave fight against feline diabetes is an encouragement to all of us buffet all stars who hope for more trips to the chocolate fountain. As for Mercy Ships, I am reminded of the prayer attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, or at least said to have been posted on the wall in the orphanage were she did her work. It reads in part, “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway. … What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway. … The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”]

“Why isn’t the FBI investigating Donna Brazile’s and CNN’s attempt to influence the election? Did she break any laws?” – Ron Geiss, San Jose, Calif.

[Ed. note: If it were a crime for political operatives to try to help their preferred politicians get more favorable treatment on television shows, federal prisons would be well beyond capacity already. What Brazile did was unethical in that she did not reveal to her employer, CNN, that she was helping one of its guests cheat. but that’s hardly a crime. Remember, debates are television programs, hosted by networks, or, in the case of the general election, a bipartisan commission. There is no federal control or oversight of the process. It’s just a TV show that happens to be more important than the rest. The reason the FBI is investigating Russia’s efforts to harm Hillary Clinton is because that is a hostile foreign power interfering with U.S. governance, not a well-known political flack flacking too hard for her friend.]

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AP: “An Islamic television station in Senegal says it has filed a formal complaint against unknown saboteur ‘X’ for taking over the network and airing pornography instead of its regularly scheduled religious programming. Viewers tuning into Touba TV on Monday afternoon got a shock when hardcore pornography was aired from 1:10 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Touba TV on Wednesday called the broadcasting blunder a ‘criminal act’ and said the formal complaint will make it possible to identify the ‘authors who have an unknown agenda.’ The broadcaster said its viewers were offended, and it condemned the attempt as a ‘satanic move’ to sabotage the values it advocates. The privately run station usually broadcasts religious programs advocating Islamic values and teachings, including sermons and prayers.”

“Ever since the Bork nomination and the fiasco of the attacks on him it’s understood your job up there is to dance, to express a fealty to the constitution.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.