Friday was a great day for Democrats, progressives and anyone who enjoys health care access under the Affordable Care Act. In a humiliating last-minute retreat, House Republicans yanked their Obamacare repeal bill less than an hour before it was scheduled to be voted on, because House Speaker Paul Ryan determined that the legislation didn't have enough support from Republicans (!) to pass the chamber. This set off a flurry of celebrations and snark from Democrats, and one politician's tweet about 'burns' being covered under Obamacare was amongst the best.
"Hey Republicans, don't worry," Sen. Bob Menendez tweeted shortly after Ryan pulled the bill, "that burn is covered under the Affordable Care Act."
Mendendez's tweet was a burn in its own right, and it was warranted. It's hard to overstate how significant of a defeat Friday was — for Trump, Ryan, and anyone who opposes the Affordable Care Act. Shortly after the bill was pulled, both Trump and Ryan said that they wouldn't be pursuing health care reform again any time soon. This is a huge shift, given that Republicans have almost uniformly been pledging to repeal Obamacare for the last seven years. Now they aren't, and that makes it a near-certainty that the law is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Hey Republicans, don't worry, that burn is covered under the Affordable Care Act— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) March 24, 2017
Moreover, this episode reveals that Trump, for all of his talk, isn't a very good dealmaker. At least, not when it comes to passing legislation. Sure, it's often difficult for presidents to get their agendas through Congress, even when their party controls both the House and the Senate. And yes, there wasn't very much agreement from within the Republican caucus about exactly how to repeal Obamacare, or what to replace it with. There were obstacles here that had nothing to do with Trump.
Nevertheless, Trump could have overcome these obstacles if he'd managed the whole situation better. For instance, the president attempted to get this bill passed three weeks after it was first unveiled to the public. Why? Nobody forced him to institute such an absurdly short deadline (The Affordable Care Act, by comparison, took a year to pass). On Thursday, when it became clear the bill didn't yet have the votes, Trump refused to extend the deadline. Instead, he told Republicans that if they didn't pass this particular repeal bill by Friday, he wouldn't support any Obamacare repeal at all.
Trump dared House Republicans to defy him, and they took him up on that offer. As a result, Obamacare is here to stay, Trump looks like a terrible negotiator, and House Republicans look incompetent. A sick burn indeed.