2. Healthcare's alternate realities
On the Sunday shows, Republicans couldn't agree whether the healthcare bill that passed the House last week was a fabulous first step or an unworkable plan that needs to be fundamentally changed.
The White House / House GOP leadership pitch:
- House Speaker Paul Ryan to George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week": "This is a rescue mission ... getting the cost of coverage down and making sure that everyone has access to affordable health care, especially and including people with pre-existing conditions."
- White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said, "Absolutely, Chris," when "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked him if he could "really stand by the president's pledge that everybody will be taken care of."
What other Republicans are saying:
- John Kasich to Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union": "This business of these [risk] pools, they are not funded ... Eight billion dollars is not enough to fund — it's ridiculous. And the fact is, states are not going to opt for that."
- The Ohio Gov. again to Tapper: "You cannot give people a $3,000 or $4,000 health insurance policy. You know where they're going to be? They are going to be living in the emergency rooms again."
- The moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins to George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week": "The Senate is starting from scratch. We're going to draft our own bill ... We will come up with a whole new fresh approach."
- Collins also disagreed with Ryan and Trump, saying it's "unlikely" that people with pre-existing conditions will have the same or better coverage under the House healthcare plan as they did under Obamacare.
Subplot: Collins v. The World. Collins ripped into Speaker Ryan in the most Collins-y way possible. After he cited Maine's experience with high risk pools on Stephanopoulos's show as evidence the House bill would work, she amiably fired back, saying Maine's experience did nothing to bolster his case. She also needled Senate leadership for not inviting her to the all-male group drafting the chamber's own healthcare overhaul, and made clear she isn't trying to curry favor with the White House.
Why this matters: The White House will have limited patience for Collins' "whole new fresh approach." Priebus and co. spent the past month crafting a bill that somehow got enough votes from moderate members and the most intransigent members of the House Freedom Caucus. Here's what one HFC member, Dave Brat, said about the Senate's healthcare plans last week: "They better not change it one iota ... If they change it, you're not going to have 218 [votes]." But everyone knows the bill that passed the House couldn't pass the Senate, and that it has to change — a lot. That means someone has to cave — or the healthcare overhaul is dead.