President Donald Trump dodged a political bullet with the House's failure to pass its Obamacare replacement.
At the same time, this Congressional fiasco has opened a broad door for the president to create a new bipartisan consensus in passing future legislation, including his tax reform and infrastructure program.
Let's begin with the fact the president did almost everything right in dealing with the Ryan-backed bill.
He jumped right into the fight over the bill and tried to use his influence to forge a compromise.
Circumstances outside of his control led to the deal's collapse.
In my book, Trump carries little blame here.
He didn’t craft the bill. He was presented with a damaged bill of goods from day one. The House leadership didn't even have the "buy in" from its own Republican caucus, not to mention Senate Republicans or conservative think tanks and allied media.
The House speaker failed to do any of the basic spadework necessary to get such important legislation passed.
Still, Trump remains a winner here.
First, he has flushed out the Freedom Caucus as extremists, unwilling to compromise. Soon after the legislation was put out, I suggested the president should "ditch" the Freedom Caucus to create a more bipartisan reform bill.
Well-intentioned as they are, the Freedom Caucus doesn't believe in compromise. It's their way or the highway.
Rep. Peter King, a conservative Republican who has Trump's ear, said this weekend that the Freedom Caucus is unwilling to compromise and can’t be relied upon.
"We're going to have to realize whether it's healthcare, whether it's tax reform coming up, that we're going to have to find a way to get legislation through that is not just all Republican," King told New York radio host John Catsimatidis.
The man who authored the "Art of the Deal" will not be depending on this group for future deals.
Second, the president wins because the Ryan plan was flawed and would have been catastrophic for Republicans in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
The New York Times reported that Ryan pleaded with Trump not to take an official vote and "to ask his fellow Republicans to take what could be a politically perilous vote on a measure that had little chance of passing …"
This is an amazing revelation, indicating Ryan knew just how dangerous this vote was for his own members!
Ryan should know about bad, useless votes. Back in 2011, he pushed House Republicans to vote on his Ryancare Plan, which would have ended Medicare and turned it into a voucher program.
The bill had no chance of becoming law, but still had severe consequences for the Republicans in 2012. They didn't win any Senate seats while losing the presidency again to Obama.
A third reason Trump wins: This failure of the GOP health plan has created space for him to develop a new bipartisan consensus.
George W. Bush passed a significant amount of legislation by making sure Democrats played a role in crafting bills. Obama refused to work with Republicans in writing his Obamacare and stimulus bills, creating the frozen climate on Capitol Hill that continues to this day.
After the loss of the health plan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he and the Democrats are "willing to work with our Republican friends" on fixing Obamacare. I believe Schumer on this, and Trump should take him up on his offer.
The president should move House and Senate Republicans to pass legislation soon that has broad support from their Democratic colleagues.
It need not be major legislation. Just start taking baby steps to rebuild trust and create amity.
My own view is that the country will suffer deeply if the last eight years are followed by another two terms with gridlock and hyperpartisanship being the coins of the realm.
There is too much that needs to be fixed in country, we are falling behind in just too many areas.
Donald Trump has a long history of being a consensus builder and dealmaker. He also has a bold vision about the country and its role in the world. His remarkable determination and force of personality make him uniquely qualified for the mission at hand.
He will seize this opportunity.
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