Can someone please explain why AHCA defeat "undermines Trump's ability to cut taxes and regs?"

I’ve read in many news articles that a defeat on the AHCA will make it more difficult for Trump to get taxes and regulations cut, but I really don’t understand the logic. I’m guessing these writers are suggesting-- and correct me if I’m wrong–that Trump will have spent much of his political capital on swinging votes for the AHCA and have none left for other ventures. But cutting taxes and regulations are much less thorny issues - ones that most Republicans can get behind. So with a Republican majority in the congress, why does failure on AHCA threaten this other legislation?

I think you are correct to be suspicious of such claims. The concept of “political capital” is only SORT-OF a “thing.” It’s really more of a short-hand way to talk about a large and complicated collection of many factors that affect things like voting, which can eventually be recognized to have been interactive, just not rigidly predictably so.

I find that at least half, if not more statements such as you describe, really only boil down to media hyperbole. Wishful thinking, or an attempt to over dramatize events.

It would probably be more accurate to suggest that when ONE part of any unified agenda is defeated, that that SIGNALS that there may be less real support for the entire agenda than previously hoped. But even that is more hype than functional reality.

Taxes and regulation are probably easier but don’t forget what the issue here is: it’s not Democrats blocking the AHCA, it’s strong conservative and moderate Republicans. If the Freedom Caucus of hard-conservatives blocks this bill for not going far enough and Trump’s bluster, threats and bribes aren’t enough to sway them then what does Trump have when they demand major changes to other proposals? Likewise when Republicans in districts that Clinton won look at a bill that’s going to raise the burden on the lower and middle class and balk at supporting it? After all, getting rid of Obamacare was supposed to be a slam-dunk as well.

That’s not to dismiss the idea that the media likes to hype things up but a failure here immediately dents Trump’s image as the guy in charge who gets things done and lets select factions of the House know where the power lies.

I also think some of it is an adjustment of perceived ability to execute. As in well we thought he’d be able to get this through and he can’t so that means some of the other thing we thought he’d be able to do are less likely to succeed.

I definitely agree his public perception will take a hit. I suppose one could make the argument that a falling popularity means fewer Republicans will have to respect his mandate.

President Donald Trump is giving House Republicans an ultimatum: Pass the American Health Care Act on Friday, or Obamacare stays.

Business Insider 23 March 2017

So, despite the fact that generally I personally would prefer no deal to half a deal if I were a pol, the old master does seem to have them in a cleft stick.

And he beat all their wretched champions last year, one by one, to contemptuously take the nomination — which was glorious — so they know that underestimating him is the biggest mistake his enemies can make.

Given that the effect of this nonsense, and the horrific prospect of the AHCA, is to make Obamacare more popular than ever, Trump may find his bet called and his hand beaten on this one. More than a few legislators might decide they’d rather live with the ACA than risk soon-to-be-viral-video town halls where shrieking constituents inform them about relatives dying because they lost their medical insurance. If your re-election in 2018 depends on that video NOT happening, just living with Obamacare is the safe course of action. Some representatives might not show up for the vote.

That’s why this is a losing proposition for Trump whether it passes or not. And that brings me great joy.

That’s not really Trump’s call. If Ryan magically passes a different AHCA next month (which passes the Senate), Trump is going to sign it. Trump can have his agenda but Congress writes and passes the laws and Trump refused to put his fingers into the legislative writing part of this debacle at all.

President Barack Obama concluded his final Hanukkah party at the White House, and wisecracked: “You know, at the beginning of my presidency, some critics thought it would last for only a year. But – miracle of miracles –it has lasted eight years. It’s lasted eight whole years. Nes Gadol Haya Po.”
They Said I Won’t Last 1 Year, I Made It to 8

15 Dec 2016

I’ve heard that both topics are being dealt with, not as full on legislation, but as budget adjustments, which are easier to pass quickly with 50%. And that healthcare was chosen to go first because it was considered to be the easier, less divisive one. So if they can’t do the easy one . . .

To pass major proposals relating to taxes and healthcare, Republicans need to use a special legislative procedure that blocks the possibility of a filibuster in the Senate. It is called reconciliation.

Reconciliation is sort of like a silver bullet in that it is powerful when used, but its use is sharply limited. To use reconciliation, Congress needs to pass a a budget blueprint (not a budget itself, just a budget plan) that authorizes how reconciliation is to be used.

The budget blueprint passed a few weeks ago for the current fiscal year allows reconciliation to be used for healthcare reform only. The plan has been to finish healthcare legislation, then pass a new budget blueprint for the next fiscal year (2018) which would authorize tax reform.

So, the Republicans this year have two silver bullets: one is committed to healthcare, and an upcoming one for tax reform. But they can’t fire the tax reform one until they complete firing the healthcare bullet.

They could have made the other decision weeks ago, to fire tax reform before healthcare. But they didn’t, so now they are locked in to their plan.

I think part of it is that perhaps tax cuts aren’t actually as clear and unifiable as we think? It sure seemed like the Republicans were united against the ACA. They voted to repeal it how many dozens of times when Obama was president? But as soon as they actually had the power to do so, all that will evaporated. Even if Republicans all want taxes to be cut, can they agree on which taxes and how, or are we going to get different factions fighting over the specifics and not coming together?

Also, I think a failure on the AHCA would actually diminish Trump’s political power. “Political capital” is a real thing, although it’s hard to pin down. If he can’t get Congress to come together to pass something, when the next hard decision comes up, everyone’s less likely to believe that he can form consensus on that issue either. Everyone knows that he has basically no political experience. If his savvy only extends to creating a storm by yelling at people on twitter and writing Executive Orders that get shut down by the courts after a few days, that’s not going to get him very far.

Can’t they just pass a budget blueprint that allows for both tax and healthcare reform in the coming fiscal year? I’m not seeing how, if they can pass those blueprints separately, they’re going to be unable to pass a combined one, but maybe I don’t understand the legislative ins and outs here.

No, the rules don’t allow for both to be authorized simultaneously. That’s one of the tradeoffs for reconciliation, among several other things – such as that any policy measures cannot be part of a reconciliation proposal.

The president’s authorty in terms of setting the legislative agenda exists largely on the basis of being able to get the American people to agree with it, and therefore re-elect the incumbants in Congress. Reagan did this in spades because despite not really understanding in nicieties of many of the policies proposed by his administration, he both spoke with bold eloquence (albiet bordering on cartoonish characterization at some points) and more pointedly was willing to negotiate deals with the nominal oppositon to get bipartison support fore measures that were otherwise fundamentally unpopular with the opposition party (or even with moderate members of the Republican party). Reagan, or his staff, also had a talent for pushing contentious issues that they knew would not pass, and then strategically pulling back to make it appear that they were accepting reasonable compromises, thereby forcing opponents to also have to demonstrate compromise or look like unreasonable jackasses.

Reagan, in a nutshell, was a dealmaker. He did so as governor of California, and he carried that reputation into the White House.

Trump, despite his affectation for the term, is not a dealmaker. Instead of careful strategic negotiaton he relies on bluster, bullying, and theatrical shenanigans in order to make his deals. His opus on dealmaking, The Art of the Deal, actually has very little to say on the principles of negotiation, and instead recommends tactics like receving services and then renigging on compensation, insulting and offending opponents to get an emotional response which can be used to humiliate them later, trying to scare potential customers into buying in right now or being shut out, and generally just being a dick. Such tactics may work in the business of commercial real estate or selling scammy “How to get rich quick!” classes, but in the world of politics where politicians are well aware of their accountability to their constituants (which, again, the majority of which overall did not vote for Trump and are showing increasingly negative approval of his actions), Trump’s Art of the Deal bullshit holds as little sway as threatening to sue Vladimir Putin or intentionally snubbing Angela Merkel.

For all of the complaints about how Obama achieved most of his legacy through executive orders, that is virtually the only mechanism Trump has used up until now, and with his Muslim Travel [Not A] Ban, that has been an embarassing failure, both at home and internationally. This was the first significant piece of legislation that Trump has ostensibly backed (although he keeps walking back his support for it in order to avoid the taint of failure) and to have it shut out by both a caucus the most conservative members of his party and more moderate Republicans who realize that this is a solution worse than the illness does not speak well for Trump being able go garner support for even less popular items on his agenda. He’s like the land investman salesman who hasn’t made a successful pitch in three months; the desperation is palpable, and it is only so long before they bring in Alex Baldwin to call him a cocksucker and pull a pair of brass balls out of his briefcase. “Put that coffee down. Coffee is for closers only.”


I think there are several reasons to think it is, at least to some degree, true.

First it illustrates the simple fact that the split of the GOP is still a fact on the ground. They are not one functional party, far from it, and the vision that some have, and what some need to do to deal with their local political realities, and what others have, is on many issues mutually incompatible. Repealing and replacing Obamacare was one thing they all agreed on and have had years to think on. Yet … they had no workable plan that they could all swallow hard to vote for. Future items also will butt up against those fundamental differences in visions. Meanwhile the Democratic side is circling their wagons effectively.

Second Trump’s threatening retribution and the party en masse ignoring him will result in them having greater confidence to ignore his edicts next time. If so many of his own party won’t follow then he has no ability to lead.

And third it illustrates how much of what he says is empty bluster. If he actually cannot get things done, cannot make good deals, with such a solid GOP majority then his popular support among his own party gets weaker, and that intra-party popular support was his only big stick to use.

Put concisely - the GOP is not cohesive enough to pass legislation alone and the Democratic side is going to demand some significant price to work together. Infrastructure they’ll go along with but not much else. Trump failing here would show that that future is a given.

Can you provide an explanatory cite?

I admit that I don’t know that much about reconciliation, but I just read the wikipedia page, and I don’t see an explanation for why you could have a budget resolution that allows changes on issue X, and you could have one that allows changes on Y, and both of those resolutions are eligible for the reconciliation process, but you couldn’t have one that allows changes on X and Y.

I’m really curious about this concept of political capital.

The office of the Presidency does have direct power that Congress has to factor in. The President can refuse to sign legislation, and rarely will Congress be able to get a 2/3 majority together.

So if Trump says “I’ll sign this bill and this bill for you, if you can get it passed, in return for this favor”, that’s a trade. Trump has said “if you don’t repeal ACA on Friday, I will never sign any more ACA repeals, forever”. That’s a powerful threat…if we knew he was going to stick to it.

Except…I suspect most Republicans legislators assume he’s bluffing. Trump has waffled on everything else, why not this? They figure that if they can somehow reach an agreement, 2 years of debating from now, Trump will sign whatever they finally arrive on.

Surely it doesn’t say that. Are you telling me that The Art of the Deal recommends fraud/theft as a business tactic? I guess I should read it…but I know he didn’t write it, and well, I’m not sure about the credibility of the source ideas…

I agree he owns the travel ban fiasco, but this one doesn’t seem to be going down like that…most people are wondering what the Congressional malfunction is after all of the practice they had. Trump tweeted today something about the Freedom Caucus preserving Planned Parenthood if they don’t get on board with AHCA, which is true, offensive, and calculating. I think he’s learning.