Our View: Art of the no deal

President Donald Trump suffered a big defeat Friday when he and House Speaker Paul Ryan decided to pull their health care bill rather than put it to a vote in the House that they seemed destined to lose.

It was a loss for Trump not just on the policy and political side, it was a blow to his artfully crafted reputation as a deal maker. He campaigned for the presidency on the basis that he was a consummate deal maker who would go to Washington and get things done with the same aplomb he used in building his business empire.

But the tactics he outlines in his book “The Art of the Deal” didn’t work in Washington, on one of the biggest issues facing this country, what to do about Obamacare.

By all accounts Trump tried hard to work his magic last week, meeting with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus who opposed the American Health Care Act, cajoling those who could be swayed, reminding those who couldn’t of the political consequences they may face, giving some members rides on Air Force One. In the end, the dealmaking didn’t work.

People frequently ask, “Why can’t we run government like a business?” There’s a hint of an answer in the failure of this attempt to pass a replacement health care bill. In business, you are mostly dealing with another person who is motivated by the same thing that motivates you — profit. In politics, you’re dealing with hundreds of skilled dealmakers, all motivated by a variety of different things — getting re-elected for some, acquiring power for others and, we hope, advancing the good of their constituents.

It’s a different world than Donald Trump is used to. The president can’t tell a congressman or a judge “You’re fired!”

So what is to be done now? Republicans are going to be reluctant to resurrect this bill. There is still time to start over. The problems of Obamacare are only going to to get worse. It may even be time to consult with the Democrats about what can be done to address the skyrocketing premiums and growing deductibles. If Obamacare can’t be repealed and replaced, then it needs a big overhaul.

That would be a deal worth making.


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