What a great day it is if your name happens to be Chuck Schumer, or Nancy Pelosi, or Bernie Sanders. The Democrats scored a great, big victory as the Republican health care plan couldn’t even make it to a vote.
Repealing and replacing Obamacare has been a big selling point for the president and Republicans. But the votes weren’t there Friday. Democrats were able to get a whole bunch of conservatives to join them in torpedoing the only chance we had in this Congress to make significant inroads and roll back Obamacare. But now that it’s done, there are a few things that President Donald Trump and Republicans should focus on.
The interesting question on the table is: What do you do now? I think President Trump’s instincts on this are exactly right. You move on. Maybe later, after you put some points on the board with tax reform or success with the Keystone Pipeline, then you come back. And they need to put some points on the board.
The second takeaway after the health care setback is that I hope the president will learn from it. He needs to be a little more focused, and provide himself with a better staff. The White House staff is not working. You hear as much from people who have been there and analyzed the situation — it is not working.
One of the lessons you learn when you look at the history of White House staff – and I wrote a book on it – is that guys like Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon are not what the president needs. Sorry, Reince. I was hopeful about the appointment of Reince. He is a mainstream Republican. The problem is that Reince doesn’t scare anybody. And he has been unable to tame some of the confusion during the first few weeks of Trump’s presidency.
Finally, the president and Republicans need to understand that the changes they want will more likely come with incremental steps, not a full-court press. It’s difficult for the Republican conference to shift from an opposition party to being a governing party. They need to take this step-by-step. Do what you can, as you can.