Donald Trump fails math, blames filibuster for health care disaster

In his recent Twitter rant, Trump didn't seem to recall the recent history of his own failed health care bill

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 28, 2017 11:30AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Saul Loeb)
(Getty/Saul Loeb)

If President Donald Trump's recent tweets are to be taken at face value, then he has little understanding of why his attempts to repeal Obamacare failed to deliver.

As Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight astutely pointed out, there were a number of factors that contributed to the GOP's failure to repeal Obamacare. The process by which they drafted the several bills under consideration were heavily criticized for lacking transparency, there were fierce divisions within their own party over how to proceed and the repeal movement itself was incredibly unpopular.

In other words, while Trump seemed to blame the failure on the fact that 60 votes are needed to break a filibuster, he ignored that 50 votes are needed to simply pass a bill in the first place. At no point did the Senate Republicans reach that threshold.

Indeed, the bill barely got to the Senate in the first place. When the House of Representatives successfully passed an Obamacare repeal bill in May, it did so with just 217 votes — one more than the bare minimum required to pass the legislation. Even then, the bill was passed with the widespread expectation that it would be heavily revised in the Senate, with the hope that that body's version would somehow be able to please both moderates and hardline conservatives.

That never happened, as indicated by the fact that multiple versions of the Senate health care bill failed to pass before the final one that was tanked by Sen. John McCain of Arizona on Friday morning. Indeed, reports indicate that many Republican senators are privately relieved that the bill didn't pass, since the health care debacle seemed like a lose/lose proposition for their party.

If Trump had spent more time paying attention to how the legislative process works and less time undermining his own chief of staff, he might have known these things.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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