Along with 16 Democrat senators, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., just introduced a single-payer healthcare bill. It would socialize medicine. It would swallow up one-sixth of the economy. And it would put America on a path toward European socialism like Germany, France, and Greece.
Maybe Sanders should consider pitching the White House on the idea. Congressional Republicans wouldn't touch it and the Tea Party base would throw a fit. But Trump might bite.
There are good ideological and political arguments against a Republican president embracing "Medicare for All," the kind of arguments dismissed by Trump. He has made one thing clear since he came down that New York escalator and entered American politics. He's unconventionally pragmatic.
While Hillary Clinton ran an orthodox campaign, Trump poured his resources in red trucker hats and looked over state races. When Republican leadership braced for bruising fight with Democrats over the debt-ceiling, in his biggest legislative victory to date, Trump cut a deal with Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. The president promised to change the way Washington works and ignoring political norms seems to be his modus operandi.
It's a pretty long leap from a little debt-ceiling deal to a massive healthcare overhaul. But Trump has been all about bipartisanship recently. When the press praised his pragmatism, he called Pelosi and Schumer to rave about the positive headlines. The deal went so well, those Democrats are invited to a bipartisan dinner at the White House.
Asked if Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell's invitations got lost in the mail, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said they weren't needed. "You've got the leader of the Republican Party sitting at the table," the press secretary said. Why bother with all the normal GOP baggage? Trump wants a new deal.
This unconventional operation was on display earlier this year when Trump promised to fund Planned Parenthood if only they'd stop performing abortions. At the time, all of Washington laughed at the idea as naïve and delusional. But now over at the New York Times, Russ Douthat points out that it was business as usual for the Trump family: Ignore baked-in ideology and try to achieve what most Americans would support.
Winning over a president who cares more about deals than dogma then, shouldn't be that hard. Depending on how Sanders makes the pitch, Trump could lend his brand of populism into a single-payer system or some mix of private-public programs.
Of course, there would be hurdles. Conservatives in Congress would mutiny and part of the base would probably jump ship. But Trump could replace those lost voters with the 60 percent of the electorate who believe the federal government is responsible for ensuring healthcare. And he could find new congressional allies across the aisle.
Who could throw the brakes on the Trump train after it goes off the rails? Humiliated and publicly whipped during the debt-deal, a subservient McConnell and submissive Ryan still followed Trump's lead. Who would stop him in the White House? The 1930s populists like Steve Bannon and the RNC operatives like Reince Preibus are all gone. Ivanka and company certainly wouldn't object.
Would this require a political leap of a magnitude not yet seen in American politics? Sure. Would embracing socialized medicine do more harm than good? Absolutely. Would this be impossible to pull off? Not at all.
Given a long enough absence of a plan, Trump could go with whatever plan is put in front of him by default. That's an opportunity for Democrats and a potential nightmare for Republicans.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.