The Corner

Politics & Policy

Why Sign on to Become a Scapegoat-in-Waiting?

In response to Move Over Hillary

Steve Berman urges President Trump to select former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to be his next Secretary of Health and Human Services, and our own anthropomorphic baseball, Dan McLaughlin, largely endorses the idea.

As a borderline-obsessive Jindal fan, I concur with the assessment of Jindal’s strengths, but suspect the arrangement would turn out badly.

The first big catch is that most serious changes to the nation’s health care policies will require acts of Congress, which requires passing legislation through the Senate. Currently four senators — Susan Collins, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Rand Paul — prefer the status quo to any reform proposal that the Senate has considered so far. No matter how much criticism gets thrown at these senators, it is unlikely to change their calculation that the problems of current law are better than the problems of a new one. The status quo can always be blamed on the Obama administration and Democrats, but the electorate will blame Republicans for any problems under the new law. As HHS Secretary, Jindal would be attempting to enact reforms with a Senate that is functionally afraid of enacting reforms, and who knows what Congress will look like after the midterms.

I think Bobby Jindal generated amazing results in Louisiana, but not even he can change that dynamic.

The other major catch is… President Trump doesn’t have cabinet members, he has scapegoats-in-waiting. Trump keeps mocking his own Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Twitter and publicly raged at Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself in the Russian investigation. Back in July, at the Boy Scout Jamboree Trump declared on stage, with HHS Secretary Tom Price, that if Price didn’t get the votes to pass the Obamacare repeal and replacement. (This was long before anyone had heard about Price’s flights on private jets.)

Never mind loyalty, Trump doesn’t show members of his own cabinet much respect. It’s easy to forget the president selected these people for these jobs; he acts like they just showed up one day and started doing jobs in his administration.

Why would any self-respecting Republican who is enjoying life in the private sector sign on to become the next scapegoat?

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