Popular vote loser Donald Trump confirms once again that nothing existed in politics or policy before he noticed it. In his own head, anyway. Speaking Monday morning before meeting with a group of healthcare industry executives, he opined "It's an unbelievably complex subject, nobody knew that health care could be so complicated." This could be because he's got a White House full of competing ideas that can't properly brief him because they don't know what in the hell they're doing.
While leaving most of the detail work to lawmakers, top White House aides are divided on how dramatic an overhaul effort the party should pursue. And the biggest wild card remains the president himself, who has devoted only a modest amount of time to the grinding task of mastering health-care policy but has repeatedly suggested that his sweeping new plan is nearly complete. […]
Several people in Trump’s orbit are eager to make bold changes to reduce the government’s role in the health-care system. That camp includes Vice President Pence, who told conservative activists last week that “America’s Obamacare nightmare is about to end,” as well as Domestic Policy Council aides Andrew Bremberg and Katy Talento and National Economic Council aide Brian Blase. […]
Other White House advisers, according to multiple individuals who asked for anonymity to describe private discussions, have emphasized the potential political costs to moving aggressively. That group includes Kushner, NEC Director Gary Cohn, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.
Meanwhile, they have to deal with Trump, who sways with the wind and whoever happens to be talking with him at the moment. Consider what happened on Friday, when he met with former rival Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and had a long conversation about health care.
Over the next 45 minutes, according to Kasich and others briefed on the session, the governor made his pitch while the president eagerly called in several top aides and then got Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on the phone. At one point, senior adviser Jared Kushner reminded his father-in-law that House Republicans are sketching out a different approach to providing access to coverage. “Well, I like this better,” Trump replied, according to a Kasich adviser.
While a confused and divided White House dithers on, Republican leadership in Congress is going full-steam ahead with their plan, never mind that Trump likes something else better. But it Trump is hearing from Kushner, Miller, and Bannon that it could be politically bad to follow Ryan and McConnell down the sinkhole of ripping health care away from millions, the whole shebang could be doomed.
Yes, it's complicated. Far too complicated for the likes of Trump.