With Health Care Vote, Donald Trump Gets ‘The Party of No’ to Say ‘Yes’

What changed was that the president forced the GOP to finally focus on the road ahead to what the American people demand—a dramatic acceleration of the economy.


Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

“There is no denying this is a win for Donald Trump, and a win for the House leadership,” Liz Peek of the Fiscal Times summated after last week’s squeaker of a vote in the House, 216-213, to advance the American Health Care Act to the Senate.

“All the members of the House (on TV) gave a kind of tip-of-the-hat to Donald Trump,” Peek continued, “because this is LBJ again. This is getting in there and arm-wrestling, cajoling and bartering. This is the art of the deal. This is what he promised he was good at. And, finally, now we have something on the books that indicates he can really do this.”

The president’s “initial approach,” commented Monica Crowley of the London Center for Policy Research, of how Trump translated his skills, “was that of a CEO. My way or the highway. He changed his approach. He softened his approach and sort of wooed them. More of the carrot and less of the stick. And that got a lot of folks onboard.”

Other significant Republicans players adjusted their skills along with that of the president.

Crowley especially pointed to Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, a coterie that declined compromise on the first two failed attempts in the House. Meadows “led a lot of these negotiations even after the president sort of trashed them…. They really stepped up and got their amendments done, but also worked with the more moderate members of the Republican Caucus to make sure that they had a bill that could get the votes.”

In sum, the success of the AHCA in the House is a revelation to a party that is unaccustomed of getting to a “Yea” vote on anything in government.

From the flabbergasting victory announced on November 9, 2016 until the AHCA vote on May 4, 2017, there was not one day to be found in which the Republican Party, from incumbent officials to think tank confabs to the lords and ladies of the commentariat, could agree on anything forward-looking in legislation.

What changed?

Not just the negotiating styles, not just the language of this or that amendment in the repeal-and-replace construction of the AHCA, not just the shock wearing off from being suddenly in charge of all three branches of the Federal government as well as in a dominant number of the state governments.

What changed was that the GOP focused on the road ahead to what the American people demand—a dramatic acceleration of the economy.

The Republican Party recognizes with the clarity of Hubble that it will prosper only when the American people prosper.

After a decade of defeatism—dating to the panicked Bush stimulus package of 2008 and ranging through the “Party of No” years under the Obama Administration’s agility—the GOP now has in its hands the authority to direct the Union toward success.

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The AHCA is not only about ending the failed experiment of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The AHCA passage is also about jettisoning the dead weight of a $1 trillion burden of fees and levies on taxpayers and enterprises over ten years that were the redistribution dynamo inside the Affordable Care Act’s magic.

“Why is that so important?” Peek observed of the $1 trillion burden lifted by AHCA. “Because the next item on the Trump agenda is tax reform. And the way they are going to hope to go about tax reform is basically to produce a revenue neutral bill.”

“They want to cut the tax rates sharply on individuals and corporations, “Peek emphasized. “But doing so from a tax system already a trillion dollars lower, it’s a lot easier to get that revenue neutrality achieved and to get this passed through reconciliation.”

Trump’s tax reform plan, as previewed by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, is the road to higher take-home pay for the American worker.

Its passage requires all the advantages the White House and the House of Representatives can find after a decade of sluggishness.

Achieving the AHCA was not about an intraparty squabble or an interparty feud, but was rather a critically necessary boost toward once-in-a-generation tax reform.

Chris Krueger of Cowen and Company, quoted in the Hill, concluded dryly, “Healthcare is 17 percent of the economy…. taxes is 100 percent.”

Trump’s White House is well ahead on the planning of how it can take the lessons learned in the AHCA missteps and employ them for tax-reform success.

“Unlike healthcare,” Gary Cohn explained of the White House contacts in Congress and beyond, from the conservative Freedom Caucus to optimistic business voices across the country, “we are out talking to all the groups that are gonna be interested in our tax plan.”

With the AHCA vote, the president, the GOP House, the Republican Party and the Trump voters, after ten years in an unhappy wilderness, have a glimpse of what winning looks like.