Littwin: Half-baked plan dies over twice-baked potato

The defeat was, of course, humiliating — for Donald Trump, for Paul Ryan, for every Republican who had ever promised to repeal Obamacare, meaning every Republican not named Lincoln.

It was, after all, a defeat that will launch a thousand is-Trump-tired-of-winning-yet tweets.

It was a defeat that punctuates, with an exclamation point, the long string of defeats, nearly all of them self-inflicted, that have marked Trump’s first two months in office — from the first week wasted in debating his inaugural crowd size to the last few weeks wasted in cajoling and threatening and Mar-a-Lagoing his way to a defeat on Trump/Ryancare.

But this was mostly a defeat for a party that had defined itself in opposition to Obamacare. For seven long years, Republicans had vowed to rid America of this scourge. For seven long years, they had campaigned against the plan, winning the House, the Senate and the presidency in the process. For seven long years, they contended they had something better to offer. The House voted more than 60 times to repeal Obamacare, and when they finally had a president who would sign repeal legislation, they had nothing. Actually, what they had was worse than nothing.

It was a given that Donald Trump would have no plan. He promised something beautiful that would cover everybody, but anyone paying attention knew that his secret health care plan was no more credible than his secret plan to defeat ISIS. Trump doesn’t do policy. He said, to his embarrassment, that no one (meaning him) had any idea that health care was so complicated. You could almost laugh if it weren’t for the millions of lives at stake.

But then there was Speaker Paul Ryan, the great right conservative hope whose ideas, we’ve been told, would reshape the nation. Trump punted to Ryan, and Ryan promptly fumbled.

Ryan didn’t just fail. Since he had never bothered, in seven long years, to prepare a viable real-world healthcare plan, he had to cobble one together in days. Trump wouldn’t wait. After all, the president had promised to repeal and replace Obamacare immediately after taking office. Ryan’s plan was was so poorly conceived that it was opposed by doctors, by hospitals, by think tanks, by left, by right, by virtually everyone.

Where to begin?  As the CBO scoring noted, the plan would rob 24 million Americans of coverage, and that was basically the game. But there’s more. And less. It would rob $880 billion from Medicaid, a program Trump had promised would go untouched. It would allow insurance companies not to provide essential health benefits in their plans, as in essential health benefits. It would literally, as the CBO also pointed out, take money from the poor and the elderly to give to the rich and the healthy. It would remove the hated mandate — and replace it with a 30 percent penalty for those whose insurance is discontinued, with that 30 percent going to, yes, insurance companies. No wonder no one liked it.

But even worse than the Trump/Ryancare plan and even worse than its defeat was the post-humiliation analysis from the leading parties themselves. Donald Trump, whose party has a 44-vote majority in the House, blamed the defeat on — wait for it — Democrats, who, shockingly, didn’t contribute a single vote to the cause of dismantling their most significant legislative achievement of the last decade.

This is what Trump told The Washington Post’s Bob Costa in his first interview after he pulled the bill: “Hey, we could have done this,” he said. “But we couldn’t get one Democrat vote, not one. So that means they own Obamacare and when that explodes, they will come to us wanting to save whatever is left, and we’ll make a real deal.”

It was strange enough that Trump’s first two phone calls after the debacle were to the enemies of the people, The Washington Post and to The New York Times. Stranger still was his position to walk away from healthcare altogether. “Enough already,” he said. Sean Spicer said Trump had “left it all out there on the field,” but Obamacare took many months to complete. Trump/Ryancare went down in weeks. Trump barely made it out of the locker room.

Where, you ask, was the self-described closer who won the presidency on the notion that he alone can make the deals that will fix our dysfunctional system? He, alone, did try for a while, but he couldn’t sell the plan to his own party because 1) factions of his party violently disagree; 2) he had no idea of the details of his own plan; 3) he threatened that it was this plan or nothing; 4) after conceding issue after issue to the right-wing Freedom Caucus, they still wouldn’t vote with him.

So now Trump says he’ll wait for Democrats to come begging, which is apparently his entire Plan B. Meanwhile, he’ll do his best to sabotage Obamacare, which covers millions of citizens of the country he leads. You could almost call it a betrayal of the American people, but, fortunately for Trump, the FBI already has other possible betrayals to investigate.

Then there was a humbled Ryan, who said Obamacare was the law “for the foreseeable future.” He also conceded that Republicans were still learning how to govern. It was good of him to admit this, but it was a gift to Democrats, just as the failure to repeal Obamacare was a gift. Ask Mike Coffman, who supported the plan because he didn’t have the nerve to do anything else, and will now be facing ready-made attack ads in 2018 for his troubles.

When Ryan came to the Oval Office to tell the president they didn’t have the votes, Trump was, naturally, upset. He had assumed Republicans would fold before his deal-making prowess. When they didn’t, he told Ryan he wanted the vote to proceed anyway.  He wanted revenge against those who dared to oppose him. He wanted names named.

Over a lunch of chicken, brussels sprouts and twice-baked potatoes — as The New York Times reported — Ryan begged him to pull the plan, arguing that a vote would compound the GOP disaster. Trump finally relented — presumably it was the potatoes — telling Ryan he could pull the doomed bill.

Let it be noted: It was the closest either Trump or Ryan came to victory all day.

Flickr photo by alanagkelly.


  1. Clown car being driven by Hillary Clinton.

    “Hiding news that doesn’t fit an ideological or a partisan agenda is perhaps the worst form of media bias. And it’s one more reason the public holds the press is such low esteem.” – Investor’s Business Daily

    “Look, everyone knows there will never be a President Trump.” – Mike Littwin, July 2016

    “I still have no idea how or why (President) Trump was elected.” – Mike Littwin, December, 2016


    I haven’t seen Mr. Littwin this giddy since Hillary Clinton won the election.

    Oh, wait……

    But in Mr. Littwin’s dreams she is the president. Not only that but Mark Udall is still in the Senate, Morgan Carroll defeated Mike Coffman, Laquan McDonald is still alive, Democrats successfully filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch and he still works for the Denver Post. That, of course, is when he wakes up and five seconds later faces the real world where President Trump is still in the first year of an eight year tenure in the White House.

    There are still many concepts Mr. Littwin struggles to understand: He describes the results of last year’s presidential election as a “split decision”. No, he actually said that. But winning isn’t the only concept he can’t seem to grasp there’s also reality. For example:

    – On Tuesday, Mr. Littwin called President Trump a liar using a surrogate: FBI Director James Comey. This is the same James Comey who Mr. Littwin accused of “misfeasance and malfeasance” just last November. From “misfeasance and malfeasance” to human polygraph in less than six months. You can’t make this stuff up.

    – On Wednesday, Mr. Littwin revealed what has been evident for a long time: He has no abiding principles, standards or beliefs. Everything he states is subject to modification/reversal without prior notice. Here’s his latest: “And while I’m generally anti-filibuster, I make one exception for any and all years in which Donald Trump is president”. You can’t make this stuff up, either.

    Here’s how Mr. Littwin described the filibuster in November, 2013:

    “The filibuster is not quite dead. As Miracle Max would explain, it’s just mostly dead.

    But excuse me if I don’t weep in either case.

    If the filibuster is gone — or mostly gone — that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing if it’s bad for Republicans. It’s a good thing if it’s bad for Democrats. Either way, it’s still good for good government.”

    That is as unambiguous a view as Mr. Littwin, or anyone, could possibly state about the filibuster or anything. And yet, on Wednesday Mr. Littwin said he was only “generally anti-filibuster” but he would make an exception for President Trump’s tenure in office.

    You can’t make………….well, you know the rest.

    Does this mean Mr. Littwin now stands for bad government? Does it make him a hypocrite? A liar? A political hack? A disgrace to journalism? A columnist who has lost touch?

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and hell yes.

    It was just last year when Mr. Littwin proclaimed he had “a pretty good handle on politics” but when he got confused “there’s always Nate Silver to straighten me out.”

    Well, maybe not.

    Mr. Littwin claims he doesn’t know how or why President Trump was elected. But Nate Silver knows one of the reasons: A liberal media bubble. Here from his website is a portion of why Mr. Silver believes President Trump won:

    “The U.S. presidential election, as I’ve argued, was something of a similar case (to the UK voting to leave the European Union). No, the polls didn’t show a toss-up, as they had in Brexit. But the reporting was much more certain of Clinton’s chances than it should have been based on the polls. Much of The New York Times’s coverage, for instance, implied that Clinton’s odds were close to 100 percent. In an article on Oct. 17 — more than three weeks before Election Day — they portrayed the race as being effectively over, the only question being whether Clinton should seek a landslide or instead assist down-ballot Democrats:

    Hillary Clinton’s campaign is planning its most ambitious push yet into traditionally right-leaning states, a new offensive aimed at extending her growing advantage over Donald J. Trump while bolstering down-ballot candidates in what party leaders increasingly suggest could be a sweeping victory for Democrats at every level. […]

    The maneuvering speaks to the unexpected tension facing Mrs. Clinton as she hurtles toward what aides increasingly believe will be a decisive victory — a pleasant problem, for certain, but one that has nonetheless scrambled the campaign’s strategy weeks before Election Day: Should Mrs. Clinton maximize her own margin, aiming to flip as many red states as possible to run up an electoral landslide, or prioritize the party’s congressional fortunes, redirecting funds and energy down the ballot?

    This is not to say the election was a toss-up in mid-October, which was one of the high-water marks of the campaign for Clinton. But while a Trump win was unlikely, it should hardly have been unthinkable. And yet the Times, famous for its “to be sure” equivocations, wasn’t even contemplating the possibility of a Trump victory.”

    Mr. Silver goes on to say, “Political journalism fails miserably” in three key areas:

    – Diversity of opinion
    – Independence
    – Decentralization

    He seems to suggest the media is simply an echo chamber. Or maybe he is suggesting the “Colorado Independent” should be more aptly named the “Colorado Independent?”. Or maybe, contrary to Mr. Littwin’s belief that when he was confused Mr. Silver could magically straighten him out, Mr. Littwin has progressed well beyond the point of redemption.

    November 08, 2016

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Green light a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation

    Veterans Day – November 10, 2017

  2. A story I read earlier today has a teacher who voted for Trump insisting that “his word is good.” It leaves me wondering what planet she might have been living on the past few years.

    Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, but lost the electoral vote. Apparently, you’re not aware that, in our system, only the electoral vote counts in a presidential election. The Russians may have helped Mr. Trump, or they may not have, but if being under investigation by the FBI means you shouldn’t be president—as it did for a lot of Clinton-haters in November—then it ought to mean the same thing in March for the existing president.

    Mrs. Clinton holds no political office. She’s effectively retired. Apparently it’s harder for Mr. Lopez to do this than it is for most of us, but he should let Mrs. Clinton go. Mr. Littwin may not be 100% consistent in his views—a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds—but I hope Mr. Lopez will now go back and do similar exhaustive research regarding the public statements of one Donald J. Trump. Let’s see what that investigation comes up with.

  3. trump is a moronic ass who holds no affiliation to anything or anyone; so why should he care about the Repuglicans or Democrats? His total agenda is ” hey,what’s in it for donny trump?” This is an imbecile who takes NO responsibility for anything, except if he believes it makes him look good. His entire nest of vipers should be purged from office. I believe Paul Ryan, his latest victim, is cursing a blue streak at everyone who voted for this dim-witted fool.

  4. Hillary Clinton doesn’t mean ANYTHING at this point, this is ALL on Rump and the MORON republicans. THEY have the majorities in BOTH the house and senate, they hold the presidency. Hillary Clinton is 100% IRRELEVANT here, republicans of ALL varieties. GET OVER IT and DEAL WITH FREAKING REALITY! There is NO blame to be had here BUT by the republican party. This is SQUARELY on YOUR shoulders, GROW THE @#%$ UP!

    YOUR party put forward a bill that was nothing but Paul Ryan’s wet dream. He was positively GIDDY over how many AMERICANS he was going to screw out of their health care, GIGGLING about it on national TV. This bill did NOTHING but give money to the rich and murder the poor, the elderly, the already ill and anyone else who isn’t made of money already. No one but a complete freaking PSYCHO could possibly vote for this thing. And then they want to turn around and blame the democrats for NOT voting for something that trashes the best thing they have done in decades? Sorry, YOU people have the majority, if YOU can’t get YOUR act together to do YOUR OWN dirty work, don’t you DARE blame those in the MINORITY for not pulling YOUR weight.

    YOU are the ones who want to remove health care from everyone possible. YOU are the ones who want more death and pain in this country, with NO way to relive it at all. YOU are the ones who show NO compassion for a single human being. It’s about time that you just grow up and ADMIT IT. Stop the blasted LYING about it at every opportunity. And NEXT time, put up someone who isn’t a complete SOCIOPATH for office. Think about the COUNTRY for a change, NOT JUST YOURSELVES.

    This wasn’t a plan, it was an attempted LOOTING and MURDER plot. Death panels? If Paul Ryan had his way, you bet. He’s salivating over it, hoping to put it forward again and get more psychos to vote for it this time.

    Republicans DON’T LIKE YOU. They think you already make too much money, you’re interfering with their plans to die the richest man possible. They think that you don’t DESERVE health care, you should just die early and leave more room for THEM. Their entire plan is for YOU to get out of THEIR way. Too bad it ends up KILLING so many far more WORTHY people than them.

    And for anyone who disagrees with me, look at their actions, ignore their words. Their words are LIES. Pay attention to what they DO. And this bill was too low for SOME of them, it wasn’t bad ENOUGH for others. And THIS is the party that has concern for YOU and YOUR life? Nonsense. And it’s time for the American people to wake up to that FACT. Or we can just keep getting screwed by them.

  5. Mr. Schoch,

    I agree 100 percent with your analysis of the 2016 presidential election results: “Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, but lost the electoral vote………in our system, only the electoral vote counts in a presidential election.”

    However, Mr. Littwin seems to disagree. Here’s how he characterized the election results less than one week ago on March 22nd, “it was a split decision. Hillary Clinton got more votes. Donald Trump got more electoral votes.”

    He may have changed his mind multiple times since then but it was not, of course, a “split decision” President Trump won the electoral votes and the White House while Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote and a permanent place in the history books as the loser in the biggest upset in the history of American politics.

    I quoted Nate Silver’s article because Mr. Littwin claims not to know how or why President Trump was elected and Mr. Silver offers a fairly precise analysis of one reason why that happened. Plus, in the past Mr. Littwin has said that when he’s confused about politics Mr. Silver could straighten him out. I hope that’s true but it’s a lot to ask of one guy.

    Now, a question: Would you characterize as a hypocrite someone who completely ignores his own inconsistencies while pointing out inconsistencies in others?

    I would


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