Anal­y­sis. Se­nate health care fail­ure an­other blow to Trump.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By John T. Ben­nett

WASH­ING­TON» The in­abil­ity of Se­nate Repub­li­cans to agree on a mea­sure to re­peal and re­place Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law is an­other blow to Donald Trump’s still-young but em­bat­tled pres­i­dency.

The pres­i­dent took to Twit­ter shortly af­ter Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., pulled the mea­sure af­ter the third and fourth GOP sen­a­tors an­nounced their op­po­si­tion — two more than he could spare. Trump’s mes­sage in a late-night tweet and then one on Tues­day morn­ing was for­ward-look­ing.

The House ap­peared pre­pared to quickly take up the Se­nate lead­er­ship bill for a vote that likely would have pro­pelled it to Trump’s desk. But Trump’s in­abil­ity to help McCon­nell and Co. find 50 Repub­li­can votes comes as the White House is deal­ing with de­clin­ing ap­proval rat­ings, in­clud­ing in key swing coun­ties that helped him up­set Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton, as well as an es­ca­lat­ing scan­dal in­volv­ing the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment and some of his top cam­paign aides, in­clud­ing Donald Trump Jr. and sonin-law Jared Kush­ner.

Trump, as he has for months de­spite sup­port­ing dif­fer­ent House and Se­nate GOP health bills, wrote that his party “should just RE­PEAL fail­ing Oba­maCare now & work on a new Health­care Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

The pres­i­dent started Tues­day by tweet­ing for all to “stay tuned” on health care, re­turn­ing to what long has ap­peared his gut in­stincts about how to ditch Obama’s law and re­place it with a Trump-GOP plan: “As I have al­ways said, let Oba­maCare fail and then come to­gether and do a great health­care plan.”

The pres­i­dent has ad­vised mem­bers of his party for some time that per­haps that might be the most po­lit­i­cally ad­van­ta­geous path for Repub­li­cans, forc­ing Democrats to com­pro­mise on an over­haul plan. Some ex­perts, how­ever, doubt that ap­proach would work, largely be­cause Repub­li­cans and Democrats have such fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent views about health care pol­icy.

Since the Se­nate took up its health over­haul ef­fort in May, Trump has been — pub­licly, at least — a less vis­i­ble pres­ence than he was dur­ing the House ef­fort. Aides ex­plained that Trump was us­ing a softer touch and tone be­cause he has re­al­ized the Se­nate is a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal than the House, where there were more po­ten­tial deals to cut and Repub­li­can cats to herd.

The pres­i­dent’s own words and tweets dur­ing the Se­nate’s process to fash­ion a bill — which of­ten seemed to con­tra­dict those of his com­mu­ni­ca­tions, pol­icy and leg­isla­tive af­fairs shops — ap­peared to re­veal a chief ex­ec­u­tive ea­ger to leave some space be­tween him­self and what­ever McCon­nell and his top deputies could piece to­gether.

If they could craft a mea­sure ca­pa­ble to garner 50 votes — with Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence cast­ing the de­ci­sive 51st — Trump and his top aides made clear he would sign it. Af­ter all, the busi­ness­man­turned-pres­i­dent who promised vot­ers so much “win­ning” they would plead with him “we can’t take it any­more, we can’t win any­more like this,” is in need of a ma­jor early term leg­isla­tive vic­tory.

Trump’s thirst for vic­to­ries over any clear ide­o­log­i­cal phi­los­o­phy was on dis­play in an­other Tues­day morn­ing tweet. He wrote that Repub­li­cans have “only a very small ma­jor­ity” in both cham­bers and there­fore “need more vic­to­ries next year since Dems to­tally ob­struct, no votes!” That was an ap­par­ent warn­ing to GOP mem­bers that they could be wiped out in the 2018 midterm elec­tions un­less they find ways to start pass­ing leg­is­la­tion.

Yet Trump never seemed that thrilled with the House bill, which he re­port­edly called “mean,” just the vic­to­ri­ous vote. The same ap­peared true of the Se­nate bill, as his out-of-place com­ment dur­ing a July 27 meet­ing with most GOP sen­a­tors at the White House showed.

“This will be great if we get it done,” he said that day. “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just go­ing to be some­thing that we’re not go­ing to like — and that’s OK. I un­der­stand that very well.”

Still, how­ever, the pres­i­dent did have at least par­tial own­er­ship of the Se­nate bill. Trump told the Chris­tian Broad­cast­ing Net­work’s Pat Robert­son last week “I will be very an­gry” if GOP sen­a­tors failed to strike a deal on the Se­nate mea­sure. “Mitch has to pull it off.”

And Democrats re­acted quickly to try to tie Trump to the Se­nate fail­ure.

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