Major right-wing media outlets and organizations are trying to shield President Trump from ownership of the Obamacare replacement bill being championed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), ignoring the fact Trump has emphatically and repeatedly endorsed it.
“I’m proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives and encouraged by members of both parties,” Trump said during brief remarks to the media on Tuesday — the same day his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, participated in a news conference where he detailed and defended the bill.
Trump also expressed his unequivocal support for the legislation during a White House meeting with House Republican leaders on Tuesday, telling them he’s “‘proud’ to support a GOP-authored plan to replace Obamacare and… [will] support it ‘100%,’” CNN reports, citing “sources in the room.”
But on Tuesday, Breitbart — the publication that until seven months ago was run by Steve Bannon, who now serves as Trump’s chief White House strategist — published a write-up of the bill headlined, “CONSERVATIVES: PAUL RYAN’S HEALTHCARE PLAN REPLACES OBAMACARE WITH OBAMACARE-LITE.” The article characterizes Trumpcare as “House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.” Trump isn’t even mentioned until a tweet he posted is discussed at the bottom.
“Specifically, Trump said, it is now up for ‘review and negotiation’ without endorsing it,” Breitbart’s article says, ignoring that in the same tweet, Trump describes the bill as “wonderful.”
The piece closes by detailing potential negative consequences for Ryan if the bill doesn’t get through Congress.
If Ryan put forward a healthcare bill that can’t even pass the House or the Senate–or either chamber of Congress–then got the Trump administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary to endorse it, he could be severely hurting the credibility of the Trump administration as part of a fool’s effort to advance his own political agenda. Hurting President Trump is not a wise move for Ryan, as many reports surfaced around the time of the Nov. 8 election that there are already more than enough House Republicans who would vote for a Republican alternative to Ryan as Speaker of the House–but the only reason they called off the rebellion for the time being was because Trump won and Republicans kept majorities in both chambers of Congress. Infuriating Trump with incompetence on the healthcare system–and saddling the president with their issues, since Democrats are already inaccurately calling Ryan’s creation “TrumpCare”–may spark the rebellion again.
Another Breitbart article published Tuesday blasts the bill for stripping out “Obamacare’s weak protections preventing illegal aliens from signing up for health care meant for citizens” — a move, the article notes, that cuts against Trump’s “hugely popular” immigration policy.
A third article on the site criticizes “the health care bill from House Speaker Paul Ryan” as falling short of “a full repeal of Obamacare.”
Shielding Trump from accountability for Trumpcare isn’t just a Breitbart thing. Drudge is doing the same thing.
And it’s not just right-wing media. Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity, both Koch-brother associated conservative organizations, released a statement criticizing “Obamacare 2.0” but not mentioning Trump. So did Heritage Action for America.
The way those media outlets and conservative organizations are framing the bill stands in contrast to what Trump has actually said, not just to the press and House Republicans on Tuesday but also on Twitter.
Our wonderful new Healthcare Bill is now out for review and negotiation. ObamaCare is a complete and total disaster – is imploding fast!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2017
I feel sure that my friend @RandPaul will come along with the new and great health care program because he knows Obamacare is a disaster!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2017
In short, there’s a reason the bill is being called “Trumpcare” — a label that’s at least being acknowledged by Fox News.
During a Fox News interview Wednesday morning, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway acknowledged the “Trumpcare” term and reiterated, “this is a piece of legislation also that has presidential leadership. He’s really husbanding this through.”
But there might be a political strategy behind shielding Trump from accountability. If the bill fails in Congress — a development which seems likely given opposition to Trumpcare on both ends of the Republican ideological spectrum — the president might be able to then blame Congress for his inability to deliver on his oft-repeated campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with “something terrific.”