Billionaire businessman Donald Trump is used to getting his way over his vast real estate empire. As President of the United States he is learning that it takes a village to get anything done from the Oval Office.
On Friday, Republicans scrapped a vote on the embattled health-care bill at Donald Trump’s request. A growing number of his own party declared they opposed the latest version just a day after the president demanded a do-or-die vote on the longtime GOP priority.
The harsh reality of just how much one man can do is hitting home with the flamboyant business mogul. House Speaker Paul Ryan called off the vote after Trump waved the white flag, according to a senior leadership aide.
In the understatement of the year, Ryan said, “We came really close today, but we came up short,” speaking to reporters. “I will not sugarcoat this: This is a disappointing day for us. But it is not the end of the story.”
“Disappointing” is hardly a big enough description of this situation for the Republicans. After more than 50 votes in the last seven years to reject the healthcare law, “embarrassment” is more the operative word. Whether this should be blamed on Speaker Ryan for not fully rallying the troops or Trump for his rookie leadership, heads will fall.
In the interim, lawmakers sounded ready to move on to other issues. Republican Greg Walden of Oregon and former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee said it best; “This bill is dead.”
But this also leaves the health care issue in limbo in Washington. Ironically, health stocks surged late in the trading day Friday after Republicans pulled the bill. Hospitals led the advance, with the BI North America Hospitals Competitive Peer Group Index up 6.1 percent at 3:44 p.m.
Trump is exasperated over the lack of a vote that may now pit him against Speaker Ryan. The president “left everything on the field,” according to spokesman Sean Spicer. But there was fair warning as Trump insisted on a Friday vote, win or lose, even if that meant leaving Obamacare in place.
The reality was both conservatives and moderates voted against the bill. Among those who announced opposition to the bill was House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey.
It seems like ages ago that Ryan boasted how the law would be repealed and replaced under a Republican president. Both he and Trump repeatedly called Obamacare “a disaster” that was collapsing under its own weight.
It is now back to the drawing board to find a broader consensus between moderate and more far right conservatives. In the meantime, look for Trump to steer towards tax reform and shelve the Obamacare standoff until sometime this summer. That will mean a plan that does not leave 24 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2026.