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The Trumpcare blame game is getting worse, with Heritage Action blaming the moderate Tuesday Group for the lack of progress in last night's talks and House GOP leadership blaming the conservative Freedom Caucus. But everyone seems to agree on one thing: Congress should give the talks a break and go on recess rather than meeting again today.
- The "blame the moderates" group: Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham says the proposal to jump-start Trumpcare narrowed significantly last night in an unsuccessful attempt to appease moderates. It now calls only for state waivers from Obamacare's "essential health benefit" rules and the restrictions on how much older customers can be charged, Needham said, rather than the broader range of insurance regulations conservatives wanted.
- Needham also blamed House Speaker Paul Ryan for not trying harder to twist moderates' arms and force them to back up their repeal promises, "rather than caving in less than 24 hours."
- "There's not momentum at this point, and it's because of the intransigence of the Tuesday Group," Needham said on a conference call with reporters.
- The "blame the conservatives" group: A GOP leadership aide said the real problem is that the Freedom Caucus wants President Trump and congressional Republicans to break their promises to protect people with pre-existing conditions — and conservatives are feeling pressure over it, so they're trying to deflect blame to the moderates.
- The "don't blame anybody" group: Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney told anti-tax activist Grover Norquist's weekly meeting that neither the Freedom Caucus nor the Tuesday Group is to blame for the impasse, per a source in the room. He said there are legitimate policy points being made from all corners of the GOP conference, and that is what accounts for the delays.
Bottom line: There had been tentative plans for more talks today between Vice President Mike Pence and Hill Republicans, but there's now a growing sense that another meeting before recess would be a waste of time.