Trump disowns Obamacare again as GOP repeal plan effectively collapses

President Trump had a creative new spin as Senate Republicans faltered in their latest attempt to alter the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

He touted the GOP bill’s support in the Senate Republican caucus.

“The vote would have been, if you look at it, 48 to 4. That’s a pretty impressive vote by any standard,” Trump told reporters before a meeting at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

The president was referring to the four Republicans who opposed the Senate’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, effectively rendering it dead Monday against united Democratic opposition. (A number of other senators had yet to reveal their stance, so the “48” number wasn’t accurate.)

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Senate Republicans then tried a so-called clean repeal of Obamacare, but that also effectively failed after three GOP senators bailed on the new plan Tuesday.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell emerged from a meeting on health care on Tuesday afternoon vowing to bring the effort of repealing Obamacare to a vote anyway.

Trump repeatedly stressed that neither he nor Republicans are going to “own” Obamacare.

Trump speaks about health care at the White House on Tuesday. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Trump speaks about health care at the White House on Tuesday. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

“Let Obamacare fail, it will be a lot easier,” Trump said. “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?’”

Trump expressed his “disappointment” that the GOP, now in control of Congress, failed to deliver him a victory.

“For seven years I’ve been hearing ‘repeal and replace’ from Congress, I’ve been hearing it loud and strong,” the president explained. “And when we finally get a chance to repeal and replace, they don’t take advantage of it. So that’s disappointing.

“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,” he added. “It may not be as quick as we had hoped, but it is going to happen.”

Related: Trump says GOP won’t give up on health care: ‘We will return!’

McConnell conceded that Republicans didn’t have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare at the same time. He said the new strategy would be to pass a so-called clean Obamacare repeal bill that Republicans approved in 2015 but then-President Barack Obama vetoed. The plan announced by McConnell included a two-year delay that the Kentucky senator said would give Republicans time to come up with a suitable replacement.

But that new strategy apparently fell apart Tuesday. It’s not yet clear if McConnell has another backup plan, but it’s clear Trump has embraced the “let it fail” position. (His administration could take actions to weaken or strengthen Obamacare’s markets.)

It’s a position the president has repeatedly toyed with. In an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Trump told attendees that “from a purely political standpoint, the single best thing we can do is nothing.”

“Let it implode completely,” Trump said of the Affordable Care Act. “It’s already imploding. You see the carriers are all leaving. I mean, it’s a disaster.”

In March, after the House GOP abruptly canceled a vote on an initial health care bill upon failing to gather enough Republican support, Trump again said that “the best thing we could do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode.”

On Tuesday, Trump returned to that refrain.

And while Trump insisted Republicans would not “own” an implosion of Obamacare after failing to alter it, in 2013 he essentially said the opposite.


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