Does Trump Need a Health Care Win More Than a Good Bill?

I’ve lost a little confidence lately in my ability to predict the political consequences of various scenarios, but I still have to believe that this is bad advice:

Only 16 percent of adults believe that House [health care] bill is a good idea, while 48 percent say it’s a bad idea, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week. Even Republican respondents are lukewarm, with 34 percent viewing the bill positively and 17 percent viewing it negatively.

Doug Heye, a Republican consultant, argued that the president badly needs a legislative victory and that achieving a high-profile win should override concerns about the legislation’s impact.

“Those who are strong Trump supporters have remained so despite the controversies,” Heye said. “They still see Trump as someone willing to take on their fights.”

Ultimately, people will vote on how they perceive the health care system to be working for them, and not on whether or not Trump can “take on fights.” Of course, there will be a battle to shape how people perceive things. But objective reality will still have the biggest say in that.

In the short-term, maybe Trump supporters will be happy to see him have a legislative victory, but they may turn on him when they see how their lives are negatively impacted. And, besides, Trump’s supporters aren’t the only group worthy of consideration here. There’s a political cost to losing soft supporters or those on the fence, and mobilizing your opponents is dangerous, too.

I think that both the president and GOP lawmakers will pay a price if they pass this bill. It might not be as big of a price as I think they should pay, but I feel more confident in saying that it won’t be a winner for them.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.