Trump: Don't worry, I've won over the skeptical Republicans on the ObamaCare replacement

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday March 17th, 2017

Oh?

Some trick if true, although it wouldn't be the first time Trump has made a seemingly improbable declaration of himself as the winner only to turn out right. But if he actually pulled this off, I've got to know how:

US President Donald Trump, after meeting with Republican lawmakers skeptical of the Obamacare replacement plan, announced Friday that he has succeeded in winning their support for the controversial healthcare overhaul.

"These folks were no's, mostly no's yesterday. And now every single one is a yes" on the American Health Care Act, Trump said after a meeting with a dozen members of the Republican Study Committee, which has gone on record saying they want important changes to the legislation.

"They all have given me a commitment that they're voting for our health plan."

The bill, which Trump said he backs "100 percent," faces a crunch vote next week in the House of Representatives.

Several Republicans have expressed deep reservations, putting the outcome of the vote in doubt.

Some conservatives have said the Republican plan is too similar to Obamacare in that it replaces that law's health coverage subsidies with refundable tax credits that fulfill a similar role.

They also call for changes to the provision that rolls back the expansion of Medicaid, the health coverage program for the poor and the disabled.

Republican Study Committee chairman Mark Walker, who attended Friday's meeting with Trump, has said his group's 170 members support instituting work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults on Medicaid.

Now the obvious question here is: Who was he meeting with? It this was a bunch of conservative House members, and he sweetened the pot for them by backing a work requirement for Medicaid . . . OK. How is that going to fly with the likes of Collins and Murkowski in the Senate? The early jitters about this bill's viability were focused on its ability to get 50 votes in the Senate, but lately there's been concerned that even House passage might be in jeopardy without addressing conservative concerns.

If Trump figures he has to go all out at this stage to get it through the House - and that vote is now set for next Thursday, by the way - OK, but then what happens when Senate moderates recoil even more strongly than they're already inclined to do? If you really sto the Medicaid expansion in 2018 and impose a work requirement, what do you think comes out of conference committee that can pass both chambers?

Unless . . . Trump has persuaded Republicans of all stripes that nothing is more important than repealing ObamaCare, precisely because it's structured in such a way to exponentially expand government in coming years, and virtually mandates continued increases of the taxes it created? If I'm a very conservative Republican and I need to save my cred with the base while still voting for this bill, I might be willing to argue that even a very imperfect bill is necessary now because ObamaCare, by design, becomes a much more ferocious animal down the road if it's not completely and totally repealed. You simply can't leave it on the books and let that happen, but as a matter of both politics and policy you can't repeal it without putting something in its place, even if the something needs a lot of work.

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

This is why I would vote for it. I find a lot of it disappointing, although I do understand that there are only certain things you can do under reconciliation. I would have done a lot of them differently, and it irritates me to no end that they needed to be watered down to keep a few faux Senate Republicans in the fold.

But I don't think a lot of conservatives understand how ObamaCare is designed to metastaszie in the coming years. It simply has to be killed, now, before we go any further down that road. Trump is probably right that it's not great politically for Republicans to own a replacement so dumbed down that Susan Collins was willing to vote for it. But if that's the only way we can slay ObamaCare while it's still relatively in the crib, we have to do it.

If this is the argument Trump used to win over his guests today - assuming he really did - that's the scenario that seems most plausible to me.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!