What's Next For Trump's 'Don't Care' Bill?

The president's victory celebration aside, there's still a long way to go.
05/05/2017 12:20 pm ET Updated May 05, 2017
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Politicians and pundits who insist that the House passage of Trump’s Don’tCare bill is a “win” for the Republican party and the president, conveniently ignore the concept of “win.” They were having a great time ignoring it in the Rose Garden Thursday night having taken the team bus down to the White House to gloat and sneer at the rest of America while Trump reminded them, once again, that he’s the president, and can pull off stunts like that because, well, he’s the president, ha, ha, wink, wink.

A win only counts at the end of the game, Misters Trump, Ryan, and McCarthy... not at the end of the first quarter, or in the fifth inning, or on the first lap of the Indy 500. As one of my friends noted, the bizarre and, frankly, humiliating, GOP ceremony Trump hosted in the Rose Garden came off as if they were celebrating winning the coin toss.

And please, Mr. Trump, don’t give us the “I’m the president,” shtick; get over it already; world leaders, from Merkel to Mays to Putin to Xi, and even to Kim Jong-un, probably watched your self-aggrandizing performance with barf bags in their laps.

And, as a friendly aside, Mr. Trump, when you’re in a meeting with Malcom Turnbull, Australia’s Prime Minister (the guy you hung up on last fall — and who you made wait while you celebrated with Team Ryan), think hard before you give the Aussies credit for having better health care than we do; the word that comes to my mind is “irony,” but maybe you see it differently. But I digress.

The House Don’tCare bill will go to the Senate, beginning the second third of the game — Mr. Trump seems, as usual, to not understand that legislation is a three-part process whereby:

1. The House sends what it approved to the Senate;

2. The Senate (the alleged “deliberative body”), if it accepts the House Don’tCare bill (and that’s a reasonable “if”), must wait for the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) score for projected costs of the GOP’s health care pool (not even close to $8 billion over five years), the Don’tCare bill’s deficit neutral potential (nil), and the human impact (how many millions of Americans (read “voters”) will be thrown under the GOP’s “Promise Bus” and not be able to afford the GOP’s Don’tCare bill).

It also revived questions about the measure’s fate in the Senate, where widespread disagreement remains among Republicans about how to proceed on health care. First, the Senate’s parliamentarian — or rules-keeper — cannot review the legislation and determine the rules of debate until the CBO submits its official estimate, which could take several more weeks to complete, according to congressional aides. That would mean that official Senate debate on the bill could not begin until June.

Depending on the CBO’s report, the Senate will either gag, actually throw up, or light its collective hair on fire and run around looking for a way out of the building. Once they have settled down and licked their wounds (and installed two new AA batteries in Mitch McConnell so at least his eyes blink and his lips move), the senators (especially those up for reelection in 2018) will:

a. take their own sweet time to figure out how not to look terrible back home, where many constituents have those pesky “pre-existing conditions” (like aging) or who actually need:

  • ambulance services,

  • pediatric care,

  • maternity care,

  • mental health services (which most of the nation will need, by the time this is all over),

  • prescription drugs (won’t we all want a bit of Xanax?),

  • or cancer treatments, diabetes care, etc.

b. hold some hearings on the Don’tCare bill (or their version of it);

c. reassure their health care lobbyists that there will be plenty of profits in the Don’tCare bill for them (this is a crucial step: the insurance companies want to be sure they are financially covered in case they are ever diagnosed with the pre-existing condition known as morals);

d. instruct their staffs to read what is actually in the Don’tCare bill they are considering and report back in one-page decision memos;

e. join hands in a big circle on the Senate floor and listen to Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” (just kidding);

f. realize that the Memorial Day and Fourth of July recesses are fast-approaching and decide to do nothing until just before the Labor Day recess (oops, too late now…better wait until never); or…

g. cobble together a compromise Don’tCare bill so distasteful to the House that once it goes to the House-Senate conference, the Freedom Caucus will implode, accidentally sucking Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy into the void;

h. construct a tall fence around the entire Capitol building to fend off millions of Don’tCare-ineligible citizens who will converge on the Congress with pitchforks and blazing torches, looking for Republican Senators and Representatives whose tattooed foreheads are, in Nancy Pelosi’s words, “glowing in the dark;”

i. place an anonymous phone call to the White House informing Trump that the Capitol dog ate the Don’tCare bill and they have nothing to turn in.

3. Instead of a signing ceremony for his Don’tCare bill, Trump sends Tomahawk missiles into the House and Senate office buildings, and everywhere else the intelligence services say Members of Congress are hiding, then blames the attack on the media and North Korea, launches nukes against CNN, the Post, the Times, and Pyongyang, and claims a win.

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