The decision by the President and the Speaker of the House to indefinitely postpone the repeal of Obamacare has significant political ramifications far beyond the fate of Obamacare. To cite one fairly obvious case, House Speaker Paul Ryan’s political career is probably toast. Watch for a rebellion in the Republican House caucus, supported by the White House, to have Ryan removed from his position as Speaker. Trump hold Ryan personally responsible for the embarrassing fiasco, and his modus operandi is “Don’t get mad, get even.”
To cite another likely outcome, the President has squandered a good deal of precious political capital by putting the full weight of the Presidency behind a bill that most people knew was going to fail. Among his core supporters, some are beginning to question his judgment, wondering why he backed a bill that couldn’t possibly pass the House; one that only 17% of the American people spoke of favorably.
But perhaps the most significant fallout is that the President has ceded power to the far right wing of the Republican Party, which now knows that they have veto power over anything the President proposes that they don’t like.
“A precedent-flouting president who believes that Washington’s usual rules do not apply to him, Mr. Trump now finds himself shackled by them.” (Washington Post)
This has serious implications for the future of Trump’s other signature promises. Like tax reform and strengthening the military and building The Wall and deporting millions of illegal aliens. All of these are going to require Congress’ support. Pushing them through Congress was always going to be a long, hard-fought battle. The President has made it an order of magnitude more difficult.
With the Republicans in Congress at war with themselves (the Democrats were not invited to the party), the President faces a difficult choice: does he revert back to his anti-establishment position from the campaign, as the right wing and many of his supporters are demanding, or does he continue to be an establishment politician, which is where he positioned himself as soon as he won the election? Either way, the honeymoon is over.
If there is any good news in all this, it’s that the President is thus far proving to be as incompetent as many of us believed he would be. He may already be a lame-duck President. Let’s just hope he doesn’t decide to deal with his frustration by starting a war with some other country. After all, that is a common way for strong-man types to distract the public’s attention away from domestic disasters.