Trump Fights Republican Legislators in House Freedom Caucus

Why is Trump so upset with the failure to replace Obamacare with a close substitute? He tweeted

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”

He’s upset because he wanted that substitute. Why does Trump criticize the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans, for derailing Ryan’s Obamacare clone? It’s because his loss on this legislation reduces his power.

Trump doesn’t make the legislation, but he wants it made according to his preferences, as do all presidents. Presidents are always sending budgets to Congress and always telling the representatives what to legislate and what not to legislate. They’re always making speeches with long lists of laws they want. Congress generally follows. Trump is no different than the rest. The Executive leads the Legislature. That’s the American system.

Trump’s election year statements about health care legislation more or less reveal that he wanted Ryancare. He wanted only to fiddle around the edges of Obamacare. In this respect, he’s mainstream Democrat/Republican, i.e., he believes in big government and he believes that many aspects of healthcare should be handled by federal controls, regulations and mandates. This is one reason he’s so upset with the group of 30-36 or so Republicans who are more conservative on this issue. Another reason, probably the more important reason to him, is that he lost on the issue and he believes that this undermines his capacity to get other parts of his wish list passed. He doesn’t want power shifted over to the House Freedom Caucus. He’s upset that they wielded a veto power. If they continue to operate as a bloc that disagrees with his program, then he’s going to have to shift ground on other issues. He’ll lose the executive initiative.

This is why we see the unusual event of a Republican president using fighting words against a significant number of Republicans on Capitol Hill, even though he needs their votes on other issues. Trump and his team handled the health care issue badly. He and Ryan didn’t take into account the opinion of the Freedom Caucus in such a way as to reach an accommodation that avoided the bill’s failure and now open discord between Trump and the Caucus.

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3:58 pm on March 30, 2017