Much is being made about the shift in talking points coming from the White House following the collapse of the first attempt by Republicans during the new administration to repeal and replace ObamaCare. As the widely criticized repeal bill went down in flames on Friday, pulled from the floor before a likely failing vote could take place, the White House was repositioning itself on the health care debate.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The White House sent a warning shot to congressional Republicans that it may increase its outreach to Democrats if it can’t get the support of hard-line conservatives, a potential shift in legislative strategy that could affect drug prices, the future of a tax overhaul and budgetary priorities.

Days after the House GOP health bill collapsed due to a lack of support from Republicans, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus brought up the idea of working with Democrats multiple times, leaving little doubt that the White House intended to send a message to the hard-line Republican flank.

“This president is not going to be a partisan president,” Mr. Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.” He said that while “I think it’s time for our folks to come together, I also think it’s time to potentially get a few moderate Democrats on board as well.” [Emphasis added]

President Donald Trump could face hurdles in enacting his agenda if he can’t broaden his coalition, even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress. Markets have rallied since his election on the prospects that he would drive through tax cuts, boost infrastructure spending and cut regulations, giving a jolt to the economy.

Basically there are two options going forward. Trump can either try to rope in the conservative wing of House members known as the “freedom caucus,” or he can tilt the other way and try to bring in some moderate Democrats. Either way, he’ll have to overcome the impasse for legislation which exists, as it always has, between the furthest ends of the political spectrum. On health care, concessions to the House Freedom Caucus made the bill less palatable to moderate Republicans, and vice-versa.

My question here is whether the Trump administration is serious, or is basically warning the GOP that Trump doesn’t necessarily care who he works with, so long as he can sign bills and claim his agenda is being enacted. On healthcare, I can see him cutting some deals, specifically on things like negotiating drug prices, a policy that Democrats have been pursuing for years, but Republicans have resisted on the grounds that the federal government shouldn’t be setting market prices for prescriptions. However, it’s entirely plausible that Democrats could get on board, and peel away some moderate Republicans and voilà, some of Trump’s campaign promises might become law.

The reality, however, is still such that working within the GOP’s majorities is the best possible chance Trump has for pushing his agenda. Even for issues that may be of importance to Democrats, there will be reluctance to provide Trump with any kind of political victory that would give him momentum for other agenda items.

It will be interesting to see how President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress move forward on the next legislative push. As Trump almost humorously said during his televised statement last Friday, he “learned a lot” during this first legislative push of his presidency. I should certainly hope so since working with Congress is a huge portion of the President’s job description, and understanding the workings of how legislation is passed might be somewhat helpful in the coming months… ya think?


  1. –“so long as he can sign bills and claim his agenda is being enacted.” The key words are “claim,” and “his” agenda. He will “claim” whatever wins will have been “his” agenda. In other words, “I meant to do that.”

    Although Trump chose the most conservative cabinet, maybe ever, he has shown, on a host of issues, that he has no firm or lasting ideals. All he cares about is winning; the repercussions don’t matter to him.

    So now, the question is, is he really interested in cutting the Freedom Caucus out of the action, by working with Democrats? Or is it a ploy to rein them in, and continue to ignore Democrats? The ball now appears to be in the Freedom Caucus’ court.

    • While I enjoy things being interesting, sometimes anyway, I just hope that the cost (like the rent) won’t be ‘too damn high’.

  2. The Freedom Caucus is primarily made up of members that believed in the Tea Party’s
    platform. They have strong beliefs and are not easily pushed around. Trump
    should be more careful who he blames for his own failures.

    Being nearthe end of his rope, Trump thinks he can win back the democrats. Trump was a member of the Democratic partyuntil 2000 when he decided to switch parties. Trump has much in common with Al Capone. Only difference being, Capone used a machine gun and Trump uses tweets. Both methods equally effective.

    Trump’s cabinet has a bunch of senile old men, who likeTrump, live in the past. And want to
    drag us back to the long ago days of white men first and no questions asked. To
    their thinking, women and all minority races be damned.

    Trump still tweets about Bill and Hilary Clinton in the most disparaging terms. Trumps needs to let go of the past and concern himself by simply doing what presidents do—take care of the needs of the American people. Not just the ultra rich but all the people. Most of all, he should give up so much tweeting and speak to the whole nation. Radio and TV time is free for the president.

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