Donald Trump's initial reaction to the news that his plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act wouldn't pass the House of Representatives was unusual, to say the least.
"I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do, politically speaking," he argued in a statement to the press delivered in the Oval Office, "is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding now."
Presidents fail to accomplish policy goals all the time. George W. Bush wanted to privatize Social Security. Barack Obama wanted to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. But both men, having failed, saw it as their responsibility to continue administering existing programs in a responsible way. They didn't muse aloud that some kind of catastrophe might redound to their political benefit — in part because it probably wouldn't have.
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But Trump seems, based on his public statements at least, to be sincerely convinced of two things. One is that the failure of Obamacare repeal is okay because the law is doomed anyway. The other is that the doom of the program would be good for him politically, because it would just go to show what a dope Obama was. The former of these beliefs is definitely false — it reflects an apparently serious misunderstanding of the content of the legislation, as well as the nature of recent problems in one part of the program. The second part is probably wrong too.
Aspects of the program have, however, run into trouble. And if Trump believes exacerbating that trouble is in his interest, he can probably make it happen — with consequences that, ironically, are likely to be most severe for his own supporters.