On Friday afternoon, President Trump delivered remarks on the failure of the American Health Care Act. “We were very close,” he said from the Oval Office. “It was a very tight margin. We have no Democrat support, no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote.” The president went on to say that the plan now is to let Obamacare collapse and hope the Democrats are pushed into working with the GOP on crafting a replacement. “I’ve been saying the last one-and-a-half years, the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode. It’s exploding right now.”
That is true, but Trump’s analysis before now has usually been accompanied with a caveat: Letting Obamacare fail would be terrible for the American people and a bad move. Here’s what he said on this course of action at a rally just last month:
I said to the Republicans, I said you want to do something great politically: don’t do anything. Sit back for two years, let it explode. The Democrats will come and beg for us to do something, but we can’t do that to the American people. We have to fix it. And we will.
Well, will they? When? Trump told reporters there’s no rush. “I never said—I guess I’m here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare—you’ve all heard my speeches—I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days.”
“I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace,” he continued. “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. It is a catastrophe.
In any case, on Friday, Trump told reporters repeatedly that Obamacare is certain to fail —“It’s imploding and soon will explode”— and that he holds no hard feelings about Paul Ryan and House Republicans having botched this effort to undo it. “I’ve had a great relationship with the Republican Party—it seems that both sides like Trump and that’s good,” he said. “I’m not going to speak badly about anybody within the party.”
What was important about the AHCA’s collapse, Trump now realizes, were the lessons we all learned along the way:
I think this is something that certainly was an interesting period of time. We all learned a lot. We learned about loyalty, we learned a lot about the vote-getting process. We learned a lot about some very arcane rules obviously in both the Senate and in the House.
And with that, this Very Special Episode of the Trump presidency is over. “Certainly for me,” the president said, “it’s been a very interesting experience.” Likewise.