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Understanding Trump’s healthcare strategy

Written By | Aug 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2017 – A new healthcare bill is dead.  That seems the view of almost everyone, even though the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a new healthcare bill.

But the Republican controlled Senate could not pass any version of the bill, even though a Republican President was ready to sign whatever they passed.

The Mainstream Media (MSM) has labeled this as just another failure by President Trump.

“The collapse of the efforts (to pass a new healthcare bill) marks a devastating defeat for Republicans and for President Trump,” wrote The Washington Post.

Democrats claim they have a victory because they stopped a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Since it appears that a new health care law is dead, some Senators are starting to talk about federal income tax reform instead of health care.

Trump’s first choice is for Republican Senators to do what they have been promising for seven years.  That is, repeal and replace Obamacare.  Regardless of the biased polls, the majority of Americans want that.  Remember these are the same polls that said Hillary Clinton would win the election.

Since the GOP failed to get a law passed Trump will have to use his plan B strategy.  This is one he often speaks about and is now ready to implement it.  This plan simply recognizes the reality of our deeply divided government that can’t come together to fix a health care system that is on the verge of collapse.

As a businessperson, he thinks the way a business person thinks.  He is concerned with results and only results.  He is the first President in history that we can say truly does not care which party is responsible for a new law, as long as the President’s basic principles are followed.

A business person understands the importance of motivation when trying to bring different parties together to make a deal.  If either side is not properly motivated it is difficult and often times impossible to reach consensus.

Some successful Presidents like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were able to use personal persuasion to convince a Congress that was controlled by the opposing party.  But in the 1980’s and 1990’s the division between the parties was not nearly as great as it is today.

Today there is a deep division that started in 2009.  The Democratic Party knew they had a majority in the House of Representatives, a super majority in the Senate and a President who would sign what they passed.  They didn’t need one Republican vote in either chamber. And they got none.

In fact, President Obama mocked the GOP candidate that he had just defeated.  Senator John McCain offered a suggestion for a feature in the healthcare bill.  Obama dismissed it saying that everything McCain would offer was just rejected by the American voters.

“I won the election John.  Elections have consequences.” Obama said.

That statement started the division that is so deep today it may be impossible for the country to move forward in the best direction. To get both sides together Trump will have to make sure that both sides are highly motivated.

A business person knows that to close a difficult deal, motivation can be applied by creating a sense of urgency. Congress can’t agree today because they believe the issue does not have to be resolved immediately.

Congress is willing to take a vacation in August, come back in September and try again.

To create that sense of urgency Trump has said, “I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us” to fix it.

The Democrats say that would be disastrous for millions of low-income Americans who will lose coverage without the government payments.  It will also be disastrous for members of Congress and their staff (the 535 lawmakers and their more than 13,000 staffers) , who may similarly lose coverage.

That will create a sense of urgency and motivate both sides to get together to come up with a new bill.  Maybe that’s Trump’s strategy.

Michael Busler

Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics. He has written Op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 35 years.