During a joint White House news conference with the prime minister of Greece on Tuesday, President Trump was asked an extremely basic question about his health care plan. He responded with a lengthy, incoherent word salad.
Trump was responding to Fox News’ John Roberts, who noted that Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act through legislation have failed, and then asked him, “I’m wondering, at this point, what is your health care plan, sir?”
Without addressing the question, Trump immediately attacked insurance companies.
“Well if you look, ah, insurance companies, and you take a good strong look at the numbers, you’ll see since the formation of Obamacare they’re up 400 percent, 450 percent, 250 percent, 300 percent — they’ve made a fortune, the insurance companies,” Trump said. “So when I knocked out the hundreds of millions of dollars a month being paid back to the insurance companies by the politicians, I must tell you, that wanted me to continue to pay this, I said I’m not going to do it. This is money that goes to the insurance companies to line their pockets, to raise up their stock prices, and they’ve had a record run, they’ve had an incredible run, and it’s not appropriate.”
Trump then pivoted to attacking Obamacare.
“Obamacare is a disaster. It’s virtually dead, as far as I am concerned it really is dead, and I predicted that a long time ago — it is a concept that doesn’t work, and we are very close,” Trump said. “We feel we have the votes, and as soon as we’re finished with taxes, John, we really feel we have the votes to get block grants into the states where the states can much better manage this money and much better take care of the people, rather than the federal government. The state block grants — we’ll do massive block grants into the various states so that the states can run the program.”
Before he was done, Trump attacked Democrats (“they have no good policies”), decried that his judicial appointments aren’t being approved more quickly (“it’s a very disgraceful situation”), and touted his tax plan (“the largest tax cuts in the history of our country”).
After nearly three minutes of ranting, Trump finally stopped talking. But at no point did he actually explain what his health care plan is. So after Trump finished, Roberts interjected, “So is Graham-Cassidy still the plan, sir?”
“Yeah, essentially that would be the plan, yes,” Trump said. “Block grants.”
The Graham-Cassidy plan Trump mentioned would result in 32 million Americans losing coverage and has already been rejected by a critical mass of Republican senators.
Trump has repeatedly proven himself unable to talk about the details of policy. While he was pushing Obamacare repeal over the summer, Trump did an interview where he indicated he thinks health insurance cost $12 annually. Following a June meeting during which Trump tried to persuade Republican senators to vote in favor of a repeal bill that provided huge tax breaks to the wealthy, one supportive senator told the New York Times that Trump “did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan — and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange.”
“Mr. Trump said he planned to tackle tax reform later, ignoring the repeal’s tax implications, the staff member added,” according to The Times.
And it’s not just health care. Public comments Trump has made in recent weeks indicate he is confused at best about how the national debt works, and about what the concept of “wiping out debt” entails.
While Trump may not understand his own policies, the steps the Trump administration has taken to sabotage Obamacare independently of Congress have already resulted in substantial rate increases.