President Trump either has no idea about what just happened in the health-care debate, or he’s really good at pretending.
Trump was asked a few questions about the just-imploded Senate GOP health-care bill on Tuesday afternoon at the White House, and his answers at once suggested he didn’t really grasp the strategy at all and he hadn’t paid much attention to the senators he needed to persuade. He even suggested that only four GOP senators would have opposed it — which is highly doubtful in the first place — and called that “a pretty impressive vote.”
Below are his answers, with our annotations in yellow.
On whether he is disappointed:
I’m disappointed — very disappointed. I don’t know, but I’m certainly disappointed. For seven years, I’ve been hearing “repeal and replace” from Congress. I’ve been hearing it loud and strong, and when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don’t take advantage of it. So that’s disappointing. So I would say I’m disappointed in what took place, and it will go on. And we’re going to win on taxes, we’re going to win on infrastructure and lots of other things that we’re doing. We’ve won and are winning the war on the border. We are very much decimating ISIS — you can see that, you can see that better than anybody see it, the soldiers that are here today. We’ve had a lot of victories but haven’t had a victory on health care. We are disappointed. I am very disappointed because, again, even as a civilian for seven years on health care, I’ve been hearing about repeal and replace, and Obamacare is a total disaster. Some states had over a 200 percent increase, 200 percent increase in their premiums, and their deductibles are through the roof. It’s an absolute disaster. And you’ll also agree that I’ve been saying for a very long time “Let Obamacare fail, and then everybody is going to have to come together and fix it.” And come up with a new plan and a plan that is really good for the people with much lower premiums, much lower costs, much better protection. I’ve been saying that — Mike, I know you’ll agree — let Obamacare fail, and it will be a lot easier. And I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll let Obamacare fail. We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us, and they are going to say, “How do we fix it, how do we fix it?” or “How do we come up with a new plan?” We’ll see what happens, but I am disappointed, because for so many years, I’ve been hearing “repeal and replace.” I’m sitting in the Oval Office, right next door, pen in hand, waiting to sign something and I’ll be waiting. And, eventually, we’re going to get something done, and it’s gonna be very good. But Obamacare is a big failure. It has to be changed. We have to go to a plan that works. We have to go to a much less expensive plan in terms of premiums. Something will happen, and it will be good. It may not be as quick as we had hoped, but it is going to happen.
On Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) announcing their opposition Monday night:
They had their own reasons. I was very surprised when the two folks came out last night, because we thought they were in fairly good shape, but they did. You know, everybody has their own reason. If you really think about it, you look at it, we have 52 people, we have no Democrat support, which is really something that should be said. You should have Democrats voting for a great plan for a lot of people. We had no Democrat support. You had 52 people, you had 4 nos. No we might have had another one someone in there. But the vote would have been if you look at it, 48-4. That’s a pretty impressive vote by any standard, and yet you have a vote of 48-4 or something like that and you need more.That’s pretty tough. So the way I look at it is in ’18, we’re going to have to get some more people elected. We have to go out and get more people elected that are Republicans. And we have to probably pull in those few people who voted against it. They’ll have to explain to you why they did, and I’m sure they’ll have very fine reasons. But we have to get more Republicans because if we get it passed in the House, we would have gotten it very much — you know you can’t use his head as a stand, we don’t want that to happen. You’re messing with the wrong guy here — I think we’re doing very well actually in ’18. I would be not surprised if something is done long before that. In any case, because the margin is so small, the majority margin is so small, we’re going to have to go out and get more Republicans elected in ’18. I’ll be working very hard for that to happen. It would be nice to get Democrat support, but really they are obstructionists. They have no ideas. They have no thought process. All they want to do is obstruct government and obstruct period. In this case, think of it, so many good things we didn’t get one vote and their plan has failed. And, by the way, Obamacare isn’t failing. It’s failed. Done.
On whether he blames Mitch McConnell:
Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix. Follow @aaronblake