The lost art of the deal

By James Oliphant — In the end, the Closer couldn’t close the deal. For President Donald Trump, the collapse on Friday of his first legislative priority, a healthcare reform bill, was an embarrassing loss of face after he and his administration insisted up until the time of the vote by the US House of Representatives that there was enough Republican support. It brings into question the neophyte president’s ability to move big-ticket legislation through Congress. And for a celebrity businessman who brands himself a deal-maker and fixer, it casts doubt over his ability to deliver on his bold “drain-the-swamp” promises to shake up Washington.
The White House wants to advance, among other things, tax reform and a massive infrastructure package this year, but now it must address whether a change of approach is needed and whether congressional allies such as House Speaker Paul Ryan can be counted on to deliver.
“This is the most consequential day of Trump’s presidency and it’s not just a failure, it’s a stunning failure,” Charlie Sykes, an influential Wisconsin Republican political commentator and frequent Trump critic, said on Twitter.
Trump appeared to chalk up the loss in part to his own inexperience after House leaders pulled their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare following defections by both moderate and far-right Republican members who were unmoved by Trump’s ultimatum to vote for the plan or live with the current system.
“We learned a lot about loyalty. We learned a lot about the vote-getting process,” Trump said after the bill was withdrawn, adding that he would move forward with other priorities.
It was yet another setback for an administration barely two months in office that has already seen its national security adviser resign, had its immigration restrictions struck down in courts, and faces a barrage of questions about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Trump’s hallmark salesmanship seemed to abandon him last week.
Although he furiously courted the hard-line conservatives opposed to the reform bill, they largely refused to yield, and in the process he alienated moderates who initially supported the bill.   — Reuters