To force recalcitrant Senators to pass a some sort of repeal of Obamacare Trump has hinted he may end subsidies for the exchanges. If the payments are withdrawn, as I have recommended Trump do, premiums will skyrocket and force the Senate to pass subsidy funds since the House never appropriated money for those subsidies as the Constitution requires them to do before money is spent (to those of you who are not members of Congress, this means the subsidies were and are completely illegal budget expenditures).
The argument against Trump following this strategy is that he will be blamed for the collapse of the exchanges.
But this battle is quite winnable if one looks at what would happen in Congress after Trump cancels the payments.
The key for this gambit to work is that Senate Majority Leader McConnell (probably using the House bill as vehicle legislation to smuggle the new bill through using reconciliation’s rules) insists on attaching a partial repeal of Obamacare to whatever legislation is sure to be written immediately to revive the subsidies in response to Trump’s executive order.
If McConnell holds to this course (and the Trump White House can give him extra motivation by making it clear he will veto any subsidy fix that does lacks a partial repeal) there will be in existence a budgetary fix – and, for once, this budget fix would be Constitutional! – to “save” the exchanges waiting to move off the Senate floor. The only way the fix does not reach Trump’s desk is if Democrats, or moderate Republican Senators, who shot down the bill last week do not vote it out of the Senate.
If Senate Democrats refuse to vote for the fix because it is conditional on a partial repeal also becoming law, Trump will be able to say it is the Democrats who are destroying the exchanges, not him, because they are either voting against the bill or holding it up with procedural motions.
McConnell could be bring up the joint fix and repeal bill numerous times until at least one Democrat or moderate Republican finally caves and votes to send the bill to the House. Until one of those votes succeed, the burden will be on the Democrats to stop blocking the fix and Trump will no doubt enjoy pointing out repeatedly what the holdup is.
I imagine enough Democrats will eventually cave if they have no choice but to vote for partial repeal.
The House could then vote only on the Senate bill and send it to Trump’s desk.