President Donald Trump agreed this week to put healthcare on the backburner until after the election, but he made it clear on Tuesday that he wasn’t happy with Republicans and their seeming cowardice on the issue. At the annual National Republican Congressional fundraiser, the president said that while he conceded to Mitch McConnell that they would hold off on another repeal-and-replace push until after 2020, he warned the congressmen in attendance that they were courting disaster by ignoring the elephant in the room.
“We have to win,” Trump said. “We have to take back the House. What really lost it and really helped us lose it was healthcare, because we didn’t have an alternative.”
Trump said there was no room for Republicans to be flummoxed when asked for a solution to the thorny issues of healthcare.
“You’ve got to confront it,” he said. “Republicans should not run away from healthcare. You can’t do it, you’re going to be clobbered. It’s been a tough subject. If we stay away from that subject, we’re going to lose, because it’s too important.”
Trump said that while Republicans have the upper hand when it comes to the border, the military, the economy, and taxes, they were letting Democrats run away with healthcare. That alone, he said, was enough to give them a major boost in 2018.
“They have healthcare right now,” he said. “We have to take that away from them.”
In his speech, President Trump was frank about his lingering disappointment that Congress couldn’t repeal and replace Obamacare in his first year.
“People don’t like Obamacare, people forgot about it,” he said. “We were so close, we were one vote away! We blew it the last time – I was fed a bill of goods. Some of you, I’m still a bit angry at some of you, but not all of you.”
Last week, after the Justice Department opted to support a court ruling undoing the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, President Trump was excited about developing another piece of legislation to replace the Obama-era law. Soon enough, however, the Senate Majority Leader told him it was a no-go in his half of Congress.
“I made it clear to him that we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” McConnell said. “He did say, as he later tweeted, that he accepted that and that he would be developing a plan that he would take to the American people during the 2020 campaign.”
The fact remains that there are still a great many Republicans in Congress who were elected – in large part – because of their vehement opposition to Obamacare. Now some of that pressure is off due to the elimination of the individual mandate, but ACA premiums continue to rise. Stratospherically, in some instances. If Democrats can somehow blame those rising premiums on the GOP, they might have a winning issue in 2020.
Nevermind that it doesn’t make sense, either. In politics, perception is reality.