Chris Hayes is the Emmy award-winning host of ‘All In with Chris Hayes,’ weeknights on MSNBC, and author of the new book A Colony in a Nation. He’s also an editor-at-large of The Nation.
JW: A week after repeal-and-replace failed in the House, we’re trying to assess the damage to Trump and the opportunities for progressives. Seems to me this is a disaster for Trump, and a disaster for the Republican Party. Is it possible this is wrong?
CH: No. I don’t think you’re wrong. What an unbelievable failure. I have never, in my political reporting career, seen something crash and burn quite like this. Sixty times they voted for repeal, while Obama was president, and now you cannot get a vote for this piece of, frankly, garbage legislation that no one liked—no one across the ideological spectrum.
JW: Seventeen percent of Americans liked it.
CH: Right. Now, to take a slightly contrarian note, they had backed themselves into a corner, and I actually think pulling the bill and moving on was the best thing for them to do politically, and also the best thing for the country. It’s a huge win for the Democrats, but it’s also the least ignominious thing the Republicans could do. Because if Trump made people walk the plank in the House, you’ve just painted a target on everyone in the House that voted for it. If you actually succeed in passing the thing, it’s a terrible piece of legislation that will cause huge amounts of material harm and havoc to actual human beings—which will also be bad for you politically.
JW: When Trump refused to call this bill “Trumpcare,” I think he was right. Trumpcare was supposed to cover everybody. It was supposed to be something terrific, and it was supposed to provide better coverage at lower cost.
CH: Here’s my read on the politics of this: Paul Ryan’s agenda was rejected by the voters in 2012. The Ryan-Romney budget was this specific kind of Washington think tank program: cut social programs for the poor, voucherize Medicare. He’s been dreaming of doing that forever. There were basically 16 people running for president on the Republican side who were in line with that agenda. There was one who was not: Donald Trump, who said on his first day, “We’re not going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” Trump’s political genius in that primary was to recognize not only that there was no core constituency support for Paul Ryan-ism in the electorate at large, there was none in the Republican base. They didn’t want voucherized Medicare. They wanted the social welfare state for their people, and a target drawn on the enemies of those people, from immigrants to people making bad trade deals. Donald Trump’s genius was to give them that.