We were supposed to have an Obamacare repeal vote on Thursday. Then we were told it was delayed until 3:00 AM  Friday. Then we were told there would be a vote Friday 3:30 PM regardless of the outcome. Then the vote was canceled. Why?

There is only one logical answer. Not only was the vote doomed to failure, it was doomed by a massive amount. Let the finger-pointing begin.

Recriminations Fly

Ahead of the vote, The Hill reported Recriminations Fly with Trump’s Health Vote in Peril

Criticism of Ryan from Trump World is erupting into the open. Perceived Ryan allies such as White House chief of staff Reince Priebus are also in the loyalists’ sights. Complaints range from the contents of the legislation itself to the decision to press for healthcare reform before moving on to other big-ticket items in the president’s agenda, notably tax reform.

The sequencing was “a blunder,” one Trump ally told The Hill on condition of anonymity, adding that “Reince put way too much trust in Ryan.”

A New York Times report Thursday night sent reverberations across Washington with its assertion that Trump had told “four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to Republicans.”

The Times report also indicated that three key Trump aides — son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, chief strategist Stephen Bannon and economic adviser Gary Cohn — shared at least some of those misgivings.

Meanwhile, the drumbeat of anti-Ryan commentary among conservative media commentators has reached a new intensity and has spread beyond Breitbart, the news organization once run by Bannon that has long been critical of the Speaker.

On Thursday evening, Fox News’s prime-time hours were permeated by critical comment about Ryan.

On “The O’Reilly Factor,” stand-in anchor Eric Bolling pressed White House press secretary Sean Spicer on whether the president was “disappointed” in Ryan or believed he should step down as Speaker if the healthcare push failed. Spicer denied both suggestions.

Spicer showed irritation with members of the House Republican Conference who had voted against the Affordable Care Act repeatedly during President Obama’s time in the White House — when they knew the president was sure to veto their legislation — but who are balking at the current plan.

“You’ve taken a bunch of these free votes when it didn’t matter because you didn’t have a Republican president,” Spicer said. “And you got to vote for repeal and go back and tell your constituents something like 50 times. Well, this is a live ball now. And this is for real, and we’re going to do what we pledged to the American people and keep our word.”

Trump blames Democrats for ObamaCare Defeat

The most ridiculous finger-point goes to the president: Trump Blames Democrats for ObamaCare Defeat

President Trump on Friday blamed Democrats, not Republicans, for the stunning collapse of the GOP healthcare plan.

“We were very close, it was a very tight margin. We had no Democrat support, no votes from the Democrats,” Trump said, flanked by Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in the Oval Office.

“I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own ObamaCare,” the president added, referring to the House and Senate Democratic leaders. But he said he would be “open” to working with Democrats on healthcare again if ObamaCare “explodes.”

“When it explodes, which it will soon, if they got together with us and we got a real healthcare bill, I would be totally open to it, ” Trump said.

The president, however, praised Ryan for working “very, very hard” to pass the bill. “I’m not going to speak very badly about anyone in the party,” he said.

Definition of “Close”

Can we please have a definition of “close”? How about a precise roll call?

Definition of Fault

The Republicans are in control of the House and the Senate.

50 times they passed repeal Obamacare legislation. Now they can’t, and supposedly it’s the Democrats’ fault. Did Republicans have 8 years to figure this out or not?

Did Republicans have 8 years to figure this out or not?

Trump Can Still Bedevil Obamacare

MarketWatch reports GOP health bill goes down, but Trump can still unleash HHS to bedevil Obamacare.

In a spectacular turn of events, a shortage of support prompted Republican leadership to pull their health-care plan from a House of Representatives vote on Friday. The move means that the Affordable Care Act, also know as Obamacare, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future,” according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Democrats, ACA supporters and opponents of the Republican American Health Care Act quickly hailed the development as a victory. But what was a legislative battle now is likely to move into the executive realm and the Department of Health and Human Services, led by longtime ACA opponent Dr. Tom Price.

Experts say there is plenty that President Donald Trump’s administration can do to undermine the ACA. And any poor deterioration in the performance of the ACA could give Republicans a new opening: Trump indicated Friday that he might re-visit health care after Obamacare “explodes.”

“It’s going to be interesting to see how they balance the responsibility for ensuring the government functions with their hatred for the law,” said Spencer Perlman, director of health-care research at Veda Partners. “If they want to completely sabotage it they probably could, and call it a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

The ACA’s problems — which may have helped elect Trump — still exist. Many insurers, including UnitedHealth Group Inc., Humana Inc., and Aetna Inc. have exited the exchanges on which many participants purchase health insurance, contributing to a 25% on average increase in premiums.

“The biggest thing that needs to be done is figuring out some way to attract young, healthy people” to exchange plans, Perlman said.

But HHS, under Price’s leadership, seems unlikely to try to improve the law. And “purposefully sabotaging the exchanges and the ACA probably isn’t difficult,” said Perlman. And for that matter, HHS is “probably the only game in town right now” that can do it.

Hatred Meets Political Reality

The political reality is replacing Obamacare would have cost the republicans votes in the next mid-term elections. That political reality mattered more to Republicans than their hatred of the ACA.

So why was there a vote in the first place? And a rush to one at that?

Conspiracy or Arrogance?

Some of my readers think Paul Ryan was purposely setup for a fall. Perhaps, but I don’t buy that theory.

I am a strong believer in Occam’s Razor, that simple explanations are more likely to be correct than elaborate conspiracy theories.

The simple explanation is foolish behavior coupled with massive arrogance.

Congratulations to those who said there would not be a vote. My predictions was a vote was 50-50 but the legislation would get crushed if there was one.

Those who thought Trump would bully his way through this were enormously off base.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock