I wrote for Politico today about how no officeholder in Washington apparently has any idea how Trump’s populism should be reflected in a legislative agenda:
House Speaker Paul Ryan isn’t a populist and doesn’t want to be a populist. He has spent his adult life committed to a traditional limited-government agenda. He crafted his own platform during the campaign, the so-called Better Way agenda, to differentiate congressional Republicans from Trump.
Trump, for his part, has lacked the knowledge, focus or interest to translate his populism into legislative form. He deferred to others on legislative priorities and strategies at the outset of his administration, and his abiding passion in the health-care debate was, by all accounts, simply getting to a signing ceremony.
In light of all this, the product of the Ryan-Trump partnership on health care was a bill bizarrely at odds with a national election Republicans had just won on the strength of working-class voters. Under the GOP replacement, fewer people would have had coverage, and workers further down the income scale would have been particularly hard hit. For whatever reason, neither of these facts seemed to exercise the White House, at least not enough to try to do anything to fix them.
Maybe Ryan doesn’t “get” the new political reality created by Trump’s victory, as the president’s boosters like to say. But what excuse does the president himself have for evidently not “getting” it, either?