This piece was originally published in March. Since then, the GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare has hit another stumbling block as the Senate has failed to coalesce around any plan to repeal and replace the law, including a so-called “skinny bill” that represented a partial repeal.
Donald Trump promised to repeal Obamacare at least 68 times, but after the House’s failure on Friday to even vote on its replacement bill, the American Health Care Act of 2017, the White House’s position is that Republicans are “stuck” with Obamacare.
As a candidate, president-elect, and president, Trump has repeatedly pointed to the repeal of Obamacare as a top priority and a key reason he wanted to be president.
However, as the reality of actually repealing the increasingly-popular law set in, along with the difficulty of actually operating the federal government and working with a congressional majority made up of the different factions of the Republican party, the White House made an odd ultimatum.
In a closed-door meeting with the House GOP, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney personally delivered Trump’s ultimatum, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal and CNN: pass the bill on Friday, or Republicans will be “stuck with Obamacare.” Trump would move on to other agenda items, such as tax reform.
Republican backers of the bill made undemocratic, unscheduled, major changes to the legislation in order to curry support from far-right members. House Speaker Paul Ryan has fought back against the wave of blame he has received for the bill’s dim prospects by arguing that he wrote the bill with Trump and Senate committees.
Asked during the White House daily press briefing if Trump was comfortable with Obamacare continuing if the AHCA vote failed, given his campaign promises to repeal, Press Secretary Sean Spicer cut in: “No! He’s not! Of course he’s not.”
“I’m not even sure where to start with that. No, he’s not. Which is why he’s literally put as much effort as he has into repealing this.”
On Thursday, Trump spent a portion of his day meeting with truckers and pretending to drive a semi on the White House lawn, earning ridicule and satire. He has also spent seven weekends in his palatial resorts, sometimes playing golf.
Spicer continued: “But he’s made it clear that this is our moment, this is our opportunity to do it. But it is now up to members to make that decision, whether or not they want to be part of this effort to repeal Obamacare.”
Later, Spicer was asked about a political cost to the bill collapsing, and Spicer replied that there would be a political cost to letting the process drag on.
One of the difficulties Trump and congressional Republicans have encountered in their drive to repeal Obamacare is that there was no clear replacement alternative that was revealed to the public.
Here is a list of 68 times Trump promised to repeal Obamacare:
“So, just to sum up, I would do various things very quickly. I would repeal and replace the big lie, Obamacare.” [New York, NY, 6/15/15]
“We have to repeal Obamacare, and it can be — and — and it can be replaced with something much better for everybody. Let it be for everybody. But much better and much less expensive for people and for the government. And we can do it.” [New York, NY, 6/15/15]
“Repeal and replace with something terrific…Other than that, it’s private. You will get great plans, you will have great competition, everything else. Now, at the lower end, where people have no money, I want to try and help those people. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I want to try and help those people, so they can also can — now, it’s not going to be like a good plan. It’s not going to be like the finest plan that somebody that’s made some money or has a good living can do.” [CNN, 7/29/15]
“We get rid of Obamacare and we have a great life all together.” [GOP debate, Los Angeles, CA, 9/16/15]
“We’re going to end, terminate, repeal Obamacare and replace it with something really, really great that works. That works.” [New Hampshire, 9/17/15]
“We are going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something much better, much better much better.” [Waterloo, IA, 10/7/15]
“We’re gonna repeal Obamacare.” [Las Vegas, NV, 10/8/15]
“We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare which is a disaster.” [Norcross, GA, 10/10/15]
“We’re going to terminate Obamacare. We’re going to terminate it, it’s going to be terminated, it’s going to be replaced with something much better and something much less expensive for you and for the country.” [Burlington, IA, 10/21/15]
“Someone said what’s the first thing you’re going to do? Well we’re going to work immediately on repealing Obamacare.” [Sioux City, IA, 10/27/15]
“I would work immediately on Obamacare repeal and replace, and we would do something terrific there.” [FOX, 11/3/15]
“… the repeal of Obamacare and replacing it with something so much better. So we will repeal.” [Aiken, SC, 12/12/15]
“Our health care is a horror show. Obamacare, we’re going to repeal it and replace it.” [North Charleston, SC, 1/14/16]
“Everybody in here, many of you know me, from day one I’ve been talking about we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare from day one, we’re going to do it. If you remember, so important, from day one I’ve been saying, repeal and replace Obamacare.” [Milford, NH, 2/2/16]
“I think Obamacare is a very big issue. I see it, we are going to repeal it or replace it with something much better and much less expensive. We have a lot of different things we are going to do.” [FOX, 2/10/16]
“We’re going to absolutely terminate and repeal — we’re going to repeal ‘Obamacare.’ Has to be repealed.” [FOX, 2/11/15]
“But he’ll take something like Obamacare where I’m totally and absolutely, you know, going to repeal and replace Obamacare from its inception and he’ll say that I love Obamacare, which is so ridiculous.” [CNN, 2/15/16]
“Look, I want — we’re going to — we’re going to repeal and — and replace Obamacare. Obamacare is a total and complete disaster. It’s going to be gone. We’re going to come up with a great health care plan, whether it’s health care savings accounts, we have a lot of different things.” [West Palm Beach, FL, 2/21/16]
“We’re going to win with Obamacare — we’re getting rid of it, we’re repealing, it replacing it.” [Columbus, OH, 3/1/16]
“We are going to get rid of Obamacare and repeal it and replace it.” [Portland, ME, 3/3/16]
“Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.” [Trump campaign website, 3/3/16]
“We are going to get rid of a lot of things. We are getting rid of Obamacare and replacing it. OK?” [Orlando, FL, 3/5/16]
“On health care where we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare…” [GOP debate, Jupiter, FL, 3/8/16]
“We have discussed repealing and replacing Obamacare. It is going to happen.” [Fayetteville, NC, 3/9/16]
“We can’t have good health care. Obamacare is a disaster. Got to be repealed and replaced.” [Fox News, 3/11/16]
“We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare and we are going to win with its replacement.” [Dayton, OH, 3/12/16]
“We’re going to repeal and replace Obama care. It’s going to be repealed and replaced.”[Kansas City, MO, 3/12/16]
“We are gonna lead on health care, we are gonna get rid of Obamacare, repeal and replace.” [West Chester, OH, 3/13/16]
“Obamacare is a disaster. It will be repealed and replaced as sure as you’re sitting there. Repealed and replaced. Thank you. And we will have alternatives that will be so good, that’s so much less expensive. So much better. You will actually be able to keep your doctor and to have your plan.” [Tampa, FL, 3/14/16]
“And I have to tell you, health care, Obamacare is a disaster. We’re gonna repeal and replace it. We’re gonna repeal it and replace it.” [Hickory, NC, 3/14/16]
“We’re repealing and replacing Obamacare that I can tell you.” [Youngstown, OH, 3/14/16]
“We’re gonna terminate Obamacare. We’re gonna repeal it and replace it with great health care for far less money. That’s gonna happen. That is going to happen.” [Fountain Hills, AZ, 3/19/16]
“HANNITY: You said to me you will repeal “Obama care” and replace it with health care savings accounts. TRUMP: Correct.” [Fox News, 3/21/16]
“So we’re gonna get efficiency in government but we’re gonna end Obamacare. We’re gonna replace it with something so much better and so much less expensive.” [Janesville, WI, 3/29/16]
“Obamacare is going to be repealed and replaced.” [Appleton, WI, 3/30/16]
“We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare which is a total catastrophe. You are going to have great health insurance.” [Milwaukee, WI, 4/4/16]
“Obamacare is going to be repealed and replaced with something much less expensive that works much better.” [CNN, 5/14/16]
“We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare, which is a disaster.” [Charleston, WV, 5/5/16]
“HANNITY: You’re making a promise to balance the budget. You’re making a promise to build the wall. You made a promise you’re going to repeal ‘Obamacare’… TRUMP: A hundred percent.” [Fox News, 5/18/16]
“We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare.” [Lawrence Township, NJ, 5/19/16]
“Because we will terminate Obama care and replace it, believe me, with something good. Believe me. [Cheers and applause] Repeal and replace Obama care.” [San Diego, CA, 5/27/16]
“We’re gonna repeal and replace Obamacare with something great.” [Fresno, CA, 5/27/16]
“And by the way, we are going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Just remember that.” [New York, NY, 5/29/16]
“A lot of part timers because of Obamacare, which is a disaster, which we’re going to repeal and replace with something much better, and much less money.” [Fox News, 6/21/16]
“We will repeal and replace job killing Obamacare. It is a total disaster.” [New York, NY, 6/22/16]
“We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. You will be able to choose your own doctor again.” [Acceptance speech in Cleveland, OH 7/21/16]
“We will repeal and replace the horrible disaster known as Obamacare.” [Manchester, NH, 8/25/16]
“On my first day in office, I am going to ask congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace, I just said it, Obamacare.” [Asheville, NC, 9/12/16]
“Also on my first day, I will ask congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare.” [Clive, OH, 9/13/16]
“Also on my first day i’m going to ask congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare.” [Canton, OH, 9/14/16]
“The 3.8 percent Obamacare tax on investment income will be repealed, as will the alternative minimum tax.” [Trump campaign website, 9/15/16]
“Repeal and replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).” [Trump campaign website, 10/6/16]
“Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my administration. … The Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeal Obamacare and replace it with health savings accounts. We can do that.” [Gettysburg, PA, 10/22/16]
“My first day in office, I am going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability.” [Sanford, FL, 10/25/16]
“When we win on November 8th and elect a Republican congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. Have to do it. I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace, and it will be such an honor for me, for you, and for everybody in this country because Obamacare has to be replaced and we will do it and we will do it very, very quickly.” [Valley Forge, PA, 11/1/16]