There have been a lot of recent signals that some quiet Trumpcare negotiations are still going on, but what do they really add up to? My best read, from talking to GOP sources over the weekend: Don't bet on a Trumpcare comeback just yet, but don't be shocked if it happens.
- Republicans, including Freedom Caucus members, would really like to get an agreement this week that revives the whole thing. That's why they've kept talking in recent days, and why Trump went golfing yesterday with conservative holdout Rand Paul.
- No one's actually sure if it's possible.
- Most Republicans on the Hill aren't as optimistic as Trump, who tweeted yesterday that "love and strength" will revive Trumpcare, and Pence, who declared on Saturday that "it ain't over yet."
- But the Freedom Caucus has narrowed its demands: Rather than stripping out all of the Obamacare regulations, it now wants to get rid of the "essential health benefits" and the "community rating" rule that prevents insurers from charging higher rates to sick people. (That combination would cause its own problems, as Vox's Sarah Kliff points out.)
- If Republicans do manage to get a deal this week, I'm told, they wouldn't vote on it. They'd just take it home to their constituents over the spring recess — which they'd much prefer to going home empty-handed.
- But Trump is still keeping the pressure on the Freedom Caucus just in case, telling the Financial Times that if he has to cut a health care deal with the Democrats, "the Freedom Caucus loses so big and I hate to see that."
Bottom line: This is the part of the zombie movie where the townsfolk reassure the kids that everything's fine, but they also start moving everyone to the basement just in case.