Notes on Trump – 6

Healthcare seems to have ended up where Trump needs it to be. Pretty well everyone now knows there will have to be a bipartisan solution, even if they still pretend otherwise.

Of course people can keep pretending and blame Trump for trying and failing to make things worse, or not trying to make things better. But healthcare has now reached a joint House/Senate conference from where it can only be resolved with bipartisan support for proposals that actually make it better.

Any such measures will also require increased deficits that are also needed by Trump for economic conditions conducive to re-election.

Meanwhile both wings of the Democrats are converging towards Trumpist popularism – with even the “lite” version preparing for a two party system with both parties isolationist, and protectionist:

Before that consolidates I would expect a 4 way split in 2020 with Trump in the strongest position for a second term (from House of Representatives voting by States after Electoral College deadlock).

Other recent developments are easier to fit into the prevailing assumptions that Trump is blundering helplessly into oblivion.

(1) The appointment of Scarramucci certainly fits. Even a stopped clock gets it right a couple of times a day. I gave up trying to guess where Trump might go on international affairs after concluding that Mike Flynn was deranged. My guess is there is no better explanation than that this appointment was a total blunder:

(2) Trump’s campaign against Sessions also looks like a blunder and one less easily corrected and more plausibly indicative of the wheels falling off.

But I’m not convinced of the popular explanations:

  1. It isn’t preparation for sacking Mueller to stop the Russia inquiry by first getting an (acting) Attorney-General that isn’t recused from interfering. Trump wants the focus on Russia as explained in previous notes in this series. Conceivably Trump is worried that Mueller may need to be stopped from going outside Russia issues to look into Trump’s shady financial dealings generally. But that doesn’t explain an approach that irritates so many Trump supporters that he needs for his primary focus on mobilizing his base.
  2. General craziness, stupidity and thuggishness isn’t an adequate explanation for anything. He doesn’t mind being “misunderestimated” as George W Bush would say.

I don’t have a good explanation but strongly suspect it isn’t just another blunder.

Best I can tentatively come up with are:

1. Reminder to “movement” activists that he’s the boss and the base they organize is his, not theirs. Both Fox and Breitbart can grumble but they have just confirmed that they have no potential to rally behind some alernative leader.

This could become important as we get closer to an open fight around 2018 primaries. (Also for subsequent pivot to immigration reform that Sessions won’t support).

2. Now that Sessions is everybody’s hero could be a good opportunity for legal counter-attack against the fairly open coup-mongering by the deep state/Obama holdovers. Certainly if Sessions doesn’t start some prosecutions of leakers and investigations of Democrats “collusion” etc soon he would be confirming Trump’s complaint about “weakness”.

Could also be fun appointing a special counsel to investigate Democrat collusion with Ukrainian retaliation against US and Russia waging proxy wars in their elections. Comes just after hysteria that Donald Jr was willing to accept evidence of Clinton collusion with Russians from Russians!



29 thoughts on “Notes on Trump – 6

  1. Trouble for anyone who believes “Healthcare seems to have ended up where Trump needs it to be. Pretty well everyone now knows there will have to be a bipartisan solution, even if they still pretend otherwise.”…. is politics. I agree that the sensible road is single payer but to get there you need to defeat the, for profit insurance industry. In Sicko Michael Moore did a great job listing the campaign contributions given to Republicans and Democrats the point being that a lot of Congressional votes are directed by the Insurance companies. On average a Health Insurance CEO get $20,000,000 per year Thats money worth defending. Even if they could get bipartisan support for the low hanging fruit of health care say Tort reform, it is impossible because Lawyers are big donors to the Democrats and trying to take money away from lawyers is about as easy as taking it away from Health Insurance CEOs, its much easier to wrap yourself in anti big government we are all rugged individualist nonsense and let the sick take care of the sick.


  2. Sorry, don’t have time to discuss at the moment. Agree this is central to the current situation and the difficulties changing it and will limit how much improvement is likely. Previous notes (and especially 100+ comments to first in this series) include links that offer evidence for my belief things are headed towards bipartisan agreement on a significant improvement (despite overwhelming media consensus that this is not what’s happening and liberal/Democratic certainty that Trump is desperately anxious to screw his base by implementing traditional Republican policies and has been working assiduously but incompetently to that end which has only accidentally made it obvious that Republicans cannot repeal and replace Obamacare).

    Essence is that despite being comprehensively out-maneured by Trump they believe their own propaganda about his stupidity and incompetence. I don’t.

    BTW this link is relevant:

    PS It is interesting that Steve’s last link shows insurance companies donated 3 times as much to Clinton as to Trump (and twice as much to Republicans opposed to Trump). This is not surprising. Trump won Republican nomination because all the other candidates promised to cut Medicaid/Medicare and he promised not to. (Huckabee later followed suit). He recently threatended Republicans that by remaining stuck they end up with single payer (which would bankrupt the country). But in fact he wants single payer and said long ago that the obstacles were political (ie the factors Steve mentions) and recently that Australia has a much better system than the US. (He also wants huge deficits but has to pretend otherwise).


  3. The idea that Trump is out maneuvering opponents or that the current gridlock will be overcome by some inevitable bipartisan spirit just doesn’t align itself with what has happened. Republicans have a majority of 2 in the Senate. This means that for any Republican bill to pass they need 50 votes a tie is decided by the casting vote of the Vice President. However the Republicans can’t write a health bill that can attract 50 out of 52 Republican senators. So is Trump engineering this? Hardly likely as he endorsed the original bill that passed through the house of reps.
    There are 4 Republican Senators who are against stripping health insurance from millions of Americans who are currently covered.
    If the other Republicans change the bill to continue coverage then Republicans at the other end of the spectrum will drop off as there are is a sizable group that thinks that the government should have no role in health insurance.
    Unfortunately for Trump he cant threaten say the Alaskan Senator because she is not up for re election until 2022 so he has resorted to threatening Alaska. Jesus this guy couldn’t outmaneuver the Queen Mary


  4. Still no time. Basically Steve is accepting the media dramatization. Arithmetic reality has always been:

    1. Any improvement on Obamacare will initially cost more from Federal subsidies and therefore require 60 votes in Senate and therefore bipartisan.
    2. There never was any possibility of Republican party agreeing. Drama around bill passing through House ignored absurdity that Senate would even consider its “mean” provisions (they didn’t and wrote several other Bills, none of which made any sense or could have possibly got past either the House or the President’s veto).
    3. Trump’s aim was and still is to get the issue to a joint House Senate conference and reach bipartisan agreement (which will probably be mainly Democrats plus a minority of Republicans).
    4. This is now happening with Trump having thoroughly discredited his opponents in Republican party and preserved his base by pretending to back the opposite of what he wants. Obamacare is still collapsing and Democrats are now openly rallying behind John Caine’s appeal for bipartisanship. Media continues its endless celebrations of Trump’s stupidity etc.
    View at
    5. Public opinion has moved sharply in that direction, including large majority of Republican voters.


  5. There are 2 issues here one is about the structure of health care and the other is about financing of health care. The current argument in the Senate is about financing and the question is how much the government should subsidize the Insurance companies.
    The question about restructure is should the US go to a single payer system and changing to a single payer system is not the policy position of the Republican or Democrat parties.
    Sanders advocated single payer and Trump acknowledged that Australia’s single payer system is superior to the US system but do you believe anything he says I mean anything!


    • Since Trump regularly says directly opposite things it is impossible to believe everything he says and equally absurd to do the opposite.


      • Well put it to the test tell us one of his claims that is correct. Declare China a currency manipulator day one, build a wall, have a transparent wall, make Mexico pay, support the LGBT community, appoint a special counsel to investigate Hillary, have the biggest inaugural crowd, have the best words, be very loyal, repeal Obamacare day one, oh this is too much effort and the lying New York Time has already produced a list of lies


      • We know he is a demagogue. The issue is whether he is good at it. So far NYT and wapo have helped maintain his base which remains big enough to beat a lot of his Republican opponents at 2018 primaries. They all lie. Trump is cruder and more effective. He even manages to convince people that they dont need to analyse what he is up to because simply saying he is lying avoids any need to think.


      • “They all lie. Trump is cruder and more effective” Is it really absurd to disbelieve everything he says? Is the difference between Trump and other politicians just a matter of degree. Well not really. When the President gives the nod for police to not treat suspects so gently. When the President makes racial discrimination a policy, when the President highlights crime committed by migrants, when the KKK and neo Nazi groups endorse the president well its more that just well they all lie. Chamberlain lied and so did Hitler but they were not equally as bad. They all lie, we all lie, people lie, to make this point makes nothing your point is worthless. Trump lies so consistently that its logical to assume that the opposite is really the truth. Now Trump wants immigrants to talk English well lets just say biggly covfefe to that.


  6. Seems I got it right that Scaramuçci appointment was simply a total blunder. Was difficult to agree with the media idiots but they cannot ALWAYS get it wrong.
    Blunder was fixed a lot quicker and cleaner than Flynn – as I expected (and media did not).


    • Certainly will face more. Good example of Trump saying opposite things.

      Recently warned Republicans that if they could not pass a Republican healthcare plan they would have to compromise with Democrats who want single payer that will blow deficit.

      Democrats blame Trump (presumably in collusion with Putin). Trump blames GOP mainstream for the deficit he needs but pretends to oppose and his base sees him keep promise to improve healthcare and not allow GOP cuts to Medicare/Medicaid while Democrats congratulate themselves for exposing his lies.


  7. ” But healthcare has now reached a joint House/Senate conference from where it can only be resolved with bipartisan support for proposals that actually make it better.” Arthur I think that you are wrong here. My understanding is that the joint conference is called once a bill has been passed by the Senate. As no bill has past no joint conference has been called.


  8. ” But healthcare has now reached a joint House/Senate conference from where it can only be resolved with bipartisan support for proposals that actually make it better.”
    The bit about it can only be resolved with bipartisan support is also wrong. My understanding is that the joint conference is the mechanism whereby bills passed by either chamber are changed so that they can be presented and passed with the same wording to both chambers before gaining Presidential authorization. My point is that seeing that the Republicans hold majorities in both chambers it is only necessary to gain support from Republican members there is no necessity for bipartisan support.


    • As I already explained, nothing that could get through the House Republicans would get through the Senate Republicans. Nothing that would actually be an improvement that Trump could sign can ever be enacted by Republicans alone. This is now widely understood.

      Joint conference was the intended next step to confirm that they cannot agree on anything that Trump could agree to without alienating his base to whom he promised improvements not cut backs on Medicaid/Medicare.

      I prematurely referred to that already being done. Actually it was 1 vote short of even getting that far, though I still expect that will end up happening (eg 50-50 with VP casting vote if McCain doesn’t show up next month).

      Anyway the reason it can only be resolved with bipartisan support has nothing to do with joint conference – that is just to completely confirm Republicans cannot do it alone.

      As I explained reason is that any improvement will cost more at least in short term and therefore cannot go through Senate with only 50 votes as budget neutral reconciliation. Requires 60 votes so requires Democrats.

      There will eventually have to be a healthcare fixup that will also help expand the deficit. It will need to rely on Democrat support with some Republicans. Democrats cannot just let Obamacare collapse, neither can Trump or Republicans. So a deal will be done and it will have to make some sense and therefore have to move in the direction of single payer.

      Trump is now covered with his base as “forced” to deal with Democrats because of RINO Congressional swamp critters failure to deliver what they promised. Helps get rid of some of them in 2018 primaries as well as providing bigger deficit for short term economic conditions more conducive to second term.

      Perhaps will get rolled together somehow with infrastructure and tax reform.

      Democrats and media clueless as usual. Now obliviously blathering about nuclear war.


  9. “I prematurely referred to that already being done” Yes that is what you did, in the real world we tend to call it being wrong but I think that there are more erroneous things afoot. Any bill to become law needs to pass through the Senate and you are arguing that single payer will pass through if not this Senate then the next one with 60 votes. How can this be? For single payer to get 60 votes then at the mid terms many different people will have to be elected. New people wont come from the Dems but some will come from the Trump loyalists. 50 seats will be up for grabs 25 will probably go Democrat and 25 Republican.Say Trump loyalists did very well and picked up 12. Getting this many would be very good because these Trump loyalists would be up against incumbents in the primaries and incumbency holds a lot of advantages so say 12. So imagine that these 12 vote anyway Trump says even thought single payer will be an anathema to most if not all of them. For the sake of argument we will say 12 votes in the bag. Now we have to find another 48 votes. Some will come from the Democrats but not all of the say 50 Democratic senators will vote for single payer. Who knows how many will vote as their insurance company donators tell them to. Single payer is not the platform of any party so the dems will have to change their platform and muster 48 out of 50 votes.
    So for your argument to hold water what we need to see is the Democrats change their platform and for the Democrat Senators to hold to that platform. We know there will be leakage we just don’t know how much.
    The key to your argument is that at least half the new senators will be Trump loyalists prepared to ditch their small government ideology because Trump tells them to. Again we will see leakage and again I’m being very generous to say that their will be 12 He will need 12 but I cant see him getting better than 6 at best but we shall see, just have to wait a year and a half.


    • I still don’t have time – and especially not to keep repeating myself.

      I don’t claim to be able to predict the future. Am inclined to agree that Senate unlikely to swing dramatically in mid-terms. If so it is likely that neither side would have 60 votes and any healthcare bill that increases deficit would still need to be bipartisan. Also it will become increasingly clear after mid-terms that there are more than two sides. Media has been obsessively focussed on supporting Democrats against Republicans. Only starting to notice that Trump is really fighting the Republican establishment (and remain incapable of noticing that the Democrats are still a largely irrelevant pile of rubble).

      My claim is about the present – that healthcare is currently about where Trump needs/wants it to be, contrary to the celebrations of heroic victories against Trump’s supposed efforts to push through Republican healthcare bills that are overwhelmingly unpopular and especially unpopular with his base.

      What Trump needs/wants is an (expensive) improvement on Obamacare that will keep his promises to his base and help mobilize them to defeat establishment Republicans in 2018 primaries (as they did by a landslide in 2016).

      He may or may not succeed in getting it, but if he doesn’t that would be a REAL defeat for him wheras the current situation is much more favourable to him than if his opponents had NOT just had the “victories” they celebrate.

      The Republican mainstream do not seem so stupid as to go out of their way to help Trump get what he wants. They get maneuvered into it despite their best efforts.

      The Democrats on the other hand do not seem to have much of a clue about anything.

      So I would not be surprised if Democrats celebrated a great victory before 2018 in having “forced” Trump to sign a Democrat healthcare bill that they can claim truthfully was a victory against the many Republicans who would vote against it. That possibility does not depend on any results of future elections. It depends entirely on what happens as the insurance markets start collapsing. Do the Democrats unite behind just blaming Trump? The links I have provided suggest there are other possibilities.

      Anything that actually improves on Obamacare would have to move towards single payer (not necessarily all the way but eg expanding Medicaid/Medicare rather than contracting it).

      Meanwhile I am guessing their next celebrated Democrat “victory” will be within the next couple of weeks raising the debt ceiling without the usual drama about cutting future spending, thus defeating Trump’s tea party/koch brothers opponents and preparing to give him the deficit he needs.


      • PS In agreeing that Senate is unlikely to swing dramatically I am not of course agreeing with any of Steve’s detailed speculations any more than I agree with his assumption that I was claiming that it would.

        There are of course only 33 seats up for election, not 50. Of these only 8 have Republican incumbents.


  10. I agree that mid term is 33 seats and I was in error to assume that there would be half up for reelection like in Australia. I wont make any more attempts to prove to you that bipartisanship is out the window. For Tump to find 60 votes in any Senate is pie in the sky first the Dems have to agree and then he has to turn at least 10 Republicans. The Republicans recently put up a single payer amendment to flush out the Dems on this issue and it went down with zero votes in favour.


    • I am delighted to hear that Steve won’t make any more attempts to prove that bipartisanship is out the window.

      Especially when such proofs consist of “explaining” that bipartisanship would require support from both Republicans and Democrats.

      BTW the link illustrates that even full single payer is very much on the agenda and only a handful of Senate Democrats would actually vote against it and more than 100 already voted for it in the House.


  11. “Any such measures will also require increased deficits that are also needed by Trump for economic conditions conducive to re-election.”
    The soap opera continues. Mid October should see the debt ceiling reached. If Congress is in a mood to increase deficits then raising the debt ceiling should be a breeze.



    I think above link is about right.

    Except that Steve Bannon leaving White House more likely to be for war siding with Trump against GOP et al.

    Will see what happens over next few weeks. Certainly some kind of turning point so would be premature to attempt much analysis until things settle down again enough for direction to be clear.

    Monday polls should be interesting. Last week’s showed first drop to just below 80% approval for Trump among Republican voters. Could drop further but still leaving a solid base of angry primary voters much larger than those likely to turn up for GOP incumbents as their approval is also dropping especially over not getting healthcare or anything else done. Anything that does get done will have to be bipartisan so they won’t get credit for that and Trump won’t lose credit for it either. Also of course GOP establishment joining Democrats and media in hyperventilating about Charlottesville and pretending he is pro-Nazi and KKK will only consolidate the mobilization of his base.

    So I still expect a large Trumpist party in Congress after 2018. Also more indications of it being a four way split by 2020 as the Democrats would have two years in which to discredit themselves with a majority in House of Representatives focussed on unsuccessfully impeaching Trump and pushing identity politics plus attempts to imitate Trumpist economic nationalism and populism.

    Here’s more on the Democrats split:

    The comments are also interesting, including a lot of anti-capitalism.

    Still looks like a long term outcome of both main parties isolationist and anti-globalist, perhaps with the two smaller parties from what used to be mainstream GOP and Democrats coalescing into a new third party but with even less popular support than Macron in France.


    • This also strikes me as getting it approximately right:

      Except that they assume, supported by Bannon’s departure, that Trump won’t successfully execute on promoting economic nationalism and populist policies while keeping Democrats focused on identity politics.

      What I think they get right is that he could win if he did. (In particular that the Democrat iincumbents will fall for it as they are enthusiastically doing, even hallucinating that their fantasies about removing Trunp over Russia can now be forgotton/vindicated by “somehow” forcing him out of the white house by sheer general outrage).

      What they miss is that the GOP never Trumpers are falling for it to. Helping unleash a war against them from Trump’s base.

      I see no reason for their assumption that Trump will not follow a populist strategy that they think he could win on.


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