Well, that’s it. Obamacare repeal has failed. The House will not vote on the Republican health care bill.
So what’s next? The first thing, of course, is for Trump to insist that he bears no blame for this. Possible candidates for being thrown under the bus include Paul Ryan, the Freedom Caucus, Democrats, Obama, and illegal immigration.
But what’s next after that? This is the depressing part. From a partisan perspective, I imagine the best bet is to sabotage Obamacare as much as possible and wait for it to fail. Then Trump can say that he was right all along (isn’t he always?) and now we really have to do something.
But there’s also the perspective of what’s best for the country. If Obamacare repeal can’t pass, the best bet is to work on making Obamacare better. This could be done fairly easily, since it’s mostly tweaks that are needed. There are even deals to be made here. Democrats would probably be willing to give Republicans some things they want (tort reform, expanded HSAs, etc.) in return for modest changes that would make Obamacare more stable (higher penalties, tweaks to the subsidies, funding the risk corridors, etc.).
But that’s a fantasy. There’s little chance of anyone in Congress these days working across the aisle to do what’s best for the country.
UPDATE: And the winner is…Democrats!
TRUMP tells me in interview this is now the Democrats’ fault, and that he anticipates that when Obama “explodes” they will be ready to deal
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 24, 2017