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Trump: “Let Obamacare fail ... I’m not going to own it”

The politics of casual disregard for the people’s welfare brought to a new level.

With Mitch McConnell’s Better Care Reconciliation Act dead for now, President Trump is on to a new health care plan — rather than try to improve the American people’s health care situation, make their health care situation as bad as possible and blame Democrats for the outcome.

Here’s the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs writing for the White House press pool:

POTUS said he was "disappointed" about healthcare.

He also said his plan was now "to let Obamacare fail, it will be a lot easier. And I think we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail. We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. 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."

There are two big problems with this conceptually. One is that it’s simply very unlikely an incumbent president can convince voters not to blame him for bad things that are happening. That’s simply not how politics works — 59 percent of people told a Kaiser Family Foundation poll they’d blame Republicans. The other is that huge swaths of Obamacare — notably Medicaid expansion but also the exchanges in blue states with high population density and a political establishment that wants to make them work (think Oregon or Massachusetts) — are definitely not failing.

That said, especially in states with shakier exchanges, the president certainly does have some fairly broad discretionary authority that he and his health and human services secretary can use to deliberately sabotage the program if they want to. Normally programs aren’t designed with this possibility in mind, since it would be kind of crazy for a president to do this.

Whether Trump ultimately follows through or not, the fact that this is his instinct underscores that from health care to Russian hacking to corruption, the signature theme of Trump’s approach to politics is putting Donald Trump’s interests ahead of anyone else’s.