As Republicans’ latest attempt to repeal and/or replace Obamacare went down in flames on Tuesday, President Trump tried to shift blame to everybody but himself.
During remarks to reporters, Trump falsely claimed his plan all along has been to “let Obamacare fail”—he in fact publicly supported simultaneous repeal and replace as recently as March — and said that if that happens, “I’m not going to own it.” (The Congressional Budget Office concluded earlier this month that, absent Trump administration sabotage, Obamacare exchanges are likely to be stable for the foreseeable future.)
Despite Republican control of both chambers of Congress and the fact that the latest Trumpcare bill was actually killed by Republican defections, Trump added, “I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it.”
“We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are gonna come to us and they’re gonna say, ‘How do we fix it? How do we fix it?’” continued Trump, who campaigned on “insurance for everybody” but now supports legislation to strip coverage from more than 20 million Americans. “Or, ‘How do we come up with a new plan?’ So, we’ll see what happens.”
President Trump’s attempt to play the blame game following a stunning failure to accomplish one of his signature campaign promises sits ill at ease with the sort of personal responsibility he touted before he ran for office.
In September 2012, Trump blasted then-President Obama for allegedly complaining about Republican obstructionism.
Obama's complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are BS since he had full control for two years. He can never take responsibility.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2012
At the time Trump posted that tweet, Obama was dealing with a House controlled by the opposition party, whereas Trump now has the benefit of his party having majority control in both chambers.
About a year later, Trump exhorted the House Republican majority to repeal Obamacare, tweeting that if they failed to do so, “THEN THEY OWN IT!”
NO GAMES! HOUSE @GOP MUST DEFUND OBAMACARE! IF THEY DON’T, THEN THEY OWN IT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2013
A couple months after that, Trump offered a more general piece of advice to any aspiring leader: “Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.”
Leadership: Whatever happens, you're responsible. If it doesn't happen, you're responsible.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2013
The next month, he posted the same piece of advice for entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs: Whatever happens, you're responsible. If it doesn't happen, you're responsible.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2013
Trump returned to the theme in early 2015, about six months before launching his presidential campaign.
Entrepreneurs: Everything starts with you. Realize that you're in charge. Whatever happens, you're responsible.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2015
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly expressed great confidence that if elected, he would be able to work with Congress to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare.
Trump today: “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan.”
Let's go to the videotape… pic.twitter.com/1JqJH422A4
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 18, 2017
But by the end of his first month in office, Trump had reversed course. During a late February news conference, he infamously claimed, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
Instead of heeding his own advice and taking personal responsibility for Trumpcare’s legislative failure, Trump on Tuesday was left blaming Democrats and trying to claim a hollow moral victory.
48 of 52 Republican senators? "That’s a pretty impressive vote by any standard" pic.twitter.com/QCtmdZOCGj
— Nolan D. McCaskill (@NolanDMcCaskill) July 18, 2017
The blame game was also played by White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during Tuesday’s off-camera, no-live-audio press briefing.
Who’s responsible for healthcare bill failure: @SHSanders45: “I would say Democrats”
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) July 18, 2017
Trump is frustrated w/ "a small number" of Republicans @SHSanders45 says but mostly blames Dems.
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) July 18, 2017
This sort of thing is a far cry from the rhetoric of candidate Trump, who infamously promised his supporters that after he was elected, “You’re going to call, and you’re going to say, ‘Mr. President, please, we can’t take it anymore, we can’t win anymore like this, Mr. President, you’re driving us crazy, you’re winning too much, please Mr. President, not so much, and I’m going to say I’m sorry, we’re going to keep winning because we are going to make America great again.”