Conservative media figures can’t decide who to blame for the disastrous American Health Care Act (AHCA), which seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will endanger the health insurance of millions of Americans. Despite President Donald Trump taking credit for this effort to roll back health care reform, right-wing media figures and outlets are grappling over whether they should fault the president for “Trumpcare” or absolve him of responsibility.
Republicans Propose The AHCA As A Half-Baked Alternative To Obamacare, Prompting Division Within Their Own Ranks
Wash. Post: House Republicans “Released Long-Anticipated Legislation To Supplant The Affordable Care Act With A More Conservative Vision.” On March 6, The Washington Post reported that House Republicans released their “long-awaited” alternative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would theoretically replace “federal insurance subsidies with a new form of individual tax credits and grants to help states shape their own policies.” The Post wrote that the proposed bill would ostensibly “preserve two of the most popular features” of the ACA but would “target” funding for Planned Parenthood and aim “to encourage people to maintain coverage by allowing insurers to impose a surcharge of 30 percent for those who have a gap between health plans.” [The Washington Post, 3/6/17]
The Atlantic: The House Health Care Alternative “Ran Into An Immediate Threat From Key Conservatives” Both Within Congress And From Political Action Groups For Not Being Extreme Enough. According to The Atlantic, the AHCA “ran into an immediate threat from key conservatives” including the House Freedom Caucus and “conservative advocacy groups” who were “no more favorable to the Republican leadership.” In the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has said, “It won’t work,” and called the alternative “Obamacare lite.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said, “We will not support a plan that does not include stability for Medicaid expansion populations or flexibility for states.” [The Atlantic, 3/6/17]
President Trump: “Our Wonderful New Healthcare Bill Is Now Out For Review And Negotiation.”
Conservative Media Confused On Who To Blame For The AHCA
Many Conservatives Say AHCA Is “Trumpcare”
Fox News’ Chris Stirewalt: “Will Trump Stick With TrumpCare?” In his daily column, the “Fox News Halftime Report,” Chris Stirewalt argued that President Donald Trump “cannot succeed without this bill” and that “the president now owns it and its success or failure with be determined in the largest part by his gifts as a salesman and an enforcer.”
Trump’s legislation is unpopular, but then again any replacement for ObamaCare was going to be unpopular.
Now, that’s not to say that they couldn’t have come up with something better than this, which is both simultaneously unambitious and flinty. But let’s face facts: this was never going to be easy.
The components of this legislation reveal the audience of one for whom the bill was written, the president of the United States.
Speaker Paul Ryan and the House leadership team, working in conjunction with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, have months to work on cutting side deals with specific caucuses and interest groups but without Trump they cannot succeed.
But Trump cannot succeed without this bill.
It only took a day for the moniker “TrumpCare” to adhere to this plan. That’s good news for Ryan & Co. since they will need the president’s unflagging support and undivided attention to jam and cram the legislation through.
Getting Trump and the White House on the record with full-throated support was the first and, arguably, main objective in preventing legislative disaster. The legislation already looks to be on life support, but a more tepid response by Trump would have put the plan straight in the morgue. [FoxNews.com, 3/8/17]
WSJ’s Gerald Seib: “Whoever Is In Power And Whoever Tries To Fix It Owns It. … It Is Now Going To Be A Problem For The Trump Administration.” Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal commented that “whoever is in power” owns the proposed health care bill, commenting, “That was a problem for the Obama administration. It is now going to be a problem for the Trump administration.” From the March 9 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:
JON SCOTT: What are [the AHCA’s] chances [of passing]?
GERALD SEIB: It is really hard to know at this point. And I actually think the bigger problem is the one Jon mentioned at the end, the opposition that's developing in the Senate. Because there’s almost no margin for error for Republicans in the Senate. This is going to have to pass with only Republican votes. There’s only a two-point margin in the Senate. Tom Cotton, as noted, came out against it today. Rand Paul has been against this version of the bill. There are some moderate Republicans on the other side of the equation who are not thrilled with it either, because of concerns that major medical groups have come out against it. If they get it through the House, which is possible, I don't know that it's got a path to passage in the Senate right now. And if you have to start over again in the Senate, then you have to start over again in the House later on. One thing to keep in mind, Jon, is that every problem with health care also translates into a problem with tax reform and a tax cut, because the way the legislative calendar is set up, they have to deal in the House in particular with health care first so they can get a budget so then they can move on to a tax cut bill. One of the promised on the road for the Republican leadership and for the White House is that problems in health slow down tax reform.
SCOTT: Well, there have been threats -- I want to look long term here before we look near term. There have been threats that if this thing doesn't pass to just leave Obamacare the way it is, let the thing collapse, and then pick up the pieces later. Is that realistic?
SEIB: Well and apparently there were reports that the president mentioned that in his meeting with conservatives last night. It's realistic maybe. The problem is at that point, Republicans own the whole problem. And this is been a classic problem with health care. Whoever is in power and whoever tries to fix it owns it. That was a problem for the Obama administration. It is now going to be a problem for the Trump administration. You get credit maybe for fixing some things, but you also get blamed for anything goes wrong in the system once you're in charge of the reform. [Fox News, Happening Now, 3/9/17]
RedState: “Trump Owns TrumpCare.” A March 7 post from RedState titled “Trump Owns TrumpCare” argued that “President Donald Trump bears full responsibility for the GOP’s disastrous proposed health care bill”:
I made this point early this afternoon, but the events of the day have only reinforced the conclusion: President Donald Trump bears full responsibility for the GOP’s disastrous proposed health care bill. [RedState, 3/7/17]
Others In Conservative Media Say Trump Not To Blame For Disastrous Health Care Bill
Fox News’ Eric Bolling: “Don’t Ever Call It Trumpcare.” Trump sycophant Eric Bolling highlighted the divisions that the AHCA is prompting within the Republican Party and warned people not to “ever call it Trumpcare, … not until it’s good.” From the March 7 edition of Fox News’ The Five:
DANA PERINO (CO-HOST): But then what does the president do?
ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): I don’t know. What you don’t do, is don't ever call it Trumpcare. Just never call it Trumpcare right now, until it’s good.
PERINO: I think you just did. [Fox News, The Five, 3/7/17]
Breitbart Calls AHCA “Paul Ryan’s Health Care Bill.” In an apparent effort to protect Trump from the fallout from a divided party, Breitbart has attached the plan to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI):
White House press secretary Sean Spicer falsely stated that the healthcare bill from House Speaker Paul Ryan represents what will eventually be a full repeal of Obamacare. Yet, the GOP bill–which has been panned by many conservatives and dubbed “Obamacare 2.0”–keeps key elements of Obamacare in place.
When asked about this at a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon by the Washington Examiner’s Sarah Westwood, Spicer inaccurately stated that if this bill were to be signed into law it would constitute a repeal of Obamacare. Repealing Obamacare was a top campaign promise made by President Donald Trump in 2016.
“If this is the policy that passes, is President Trump confident in the future that he can say that he fully repealed Obamacare?” Westwood asked Spicer.
“Yeah, absolutely, as I mentioned, I mean, the first half of the bill that we put forward repeals it,” Spicer replied. “There are three things, I mean, each phase that we’ve talked about—phase one, phase two, and phase three—there’s a repeal and replace aspect with each one.”
Yet, the bill proposed on Monday night certainly does not represent a full repeal of Obamacare. [Breitbart, 3/7/17]
Radio Host Dana Loesch: AHCA “Is An Insult To The American People And It’s An Insult To The Trump Administration.” From the March 10 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:
DANA LOESCH: I want to reiterate, too, what Senator Paul said, but I want to take it a step further. I think it's an insult. It's an insult to the American people and it's an insult to the Trump administration, for Republicans, congressional Republicans, to deliver this bill to his desk. They are the ones who are endangering this new administration and I can't bold, italicized, underline that anymore. In 2015, Jim Jordan had a fantastic bill that went way further than anything that this bill is doing and it actually lowered prices instead of increasing prices, which is what this Obamacare 2.0 bill does and I don't know why, for the life of me, they will not go back to that, because it was already on the floor. This is a swamp monster. If people are going to talk about draining the swamp, this is literally the creature from the black lagoon, this Obamacare 2.0 bill. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 3/10/17]
Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Calls Health Care Bill “[Paul] Ryan’s RINO-Care.”
Fox Business’ Charles Payne Polls Viewers On “Paul Ryan’s Healthcare Plan.”