The long-awaited replacement for Obamacare has gotten plenty of criticism, but one of its biggest proponents has been relatively silent about the American Health Care Act until now. According to one report, Donald Trump vaguely warned Congressional Republicans in a meeting this week about their future fates should the bill not pass, indicating that it could be in even more trouble than had been previously speculated. However, Trump's warnings may be in vain, leaving the bill and the president's legacy hanging in the balance.
According to Vox, the meeting included Trump and some of the prominent Republican critics of the bill who could prevent it from passing through Congress. "I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done," Trump said to House Republicans Tuesday, referring to passing the AHCA, which was introduced two weeks ago by a meme-worthy Paul Ryan.
It's not really surprising that Trump would use warnings to push his Congressional agenda, since bullying has been his shtick since the beginning of the campaign. What's interesting here is how long it took for Trump to get aggressive about making it pass. Though repealing and replacing Obamacare was one of the central tenets of his campaign, Trump remained predominantly silent on the bill (with the most notable exception being the admission that it would hurt the very people who voted for him). For Trump, healthcare reform may be more a matter of forward movement than legitimate concern for policy. If the bill doesn't pass, it will bolster the resistance against his administration significantly, making it much more difficult for Trump to achieve the rest of his costly agenda.
Trump to House Rs on AHCA vote: "I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done."— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) March 21, 2017
Realistically, Trump can't have any idea what's going to happen in 2018, because his own election has undermined any concept of politics as usual in America. In a normal midterm election, reelection rates for the House of Representatives rarely dip below 80 percent — even at the height of the freakout about Obamacare in 2010, over 85 percent of incumbent Representatives running for reelection were back in their seats for the next Congress. The problem is that people live in extremely polarized communities that consistently reelect the same party to office, and the most successful candidates are typically the ones with the experience and infrastructure to run a solid campaign. It's possible that the dynamic will hold up, or even intensify, leaving Trump to battle against the people he threatened for the second half of his term.
At the same time, House Republicans may already be fighting a losing battle for the midterms. The organized resistance against Trump has seen massive growth over the last several months that could turn the tables on Congressional demographics. In the week following Election Day, over 2,000 women pledged to run for office with the She Should Run election incubator, a non-profit organization that empowers women to run for the 500,000 elected offices in this country. Combined with potentially historic voter turnout in 2018 inspired by last year's events, left-leaners could oust the Republican establishment in Congress and make the AHCA a distant memory.
President Trump told GOP lawmakers that they risked losing re-election if the health plan didn’t pass https://t.co/aXP2c0GnPg— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 21, 2017
Ultimately, Trump's intimidation shouldn't matter much, because the representatives should be voting based on what's truly best for their constituents. Multiple analyses have found that older, sicker, and lower income voters will suffer under this law, and those Republicans who vote against that discrimination should be rewarded, not punished.