During a luncheon with Republican Senators Tuesday afternoon, Donald Trump reportedly described the health bill written and passed by House Republicans—and lauded by the president in a Rose Garden ceremony last month—as “mean.” It’s not clear what Trump was referring to in the plan exactly, but it’s not hard to see why someone looking at the GOP plan objectively would characterize it that way. The entire thrust of the Republican effort was to do less—less public investment, less regulation, less coverage, and less care for fewer people, particularly those who need it most and have the least. Mean, you say? My colleague Jamelle Bouie described the GOP-backed plan as cruel last month. Here’s how the president described it then:
I will say this: that as far as I’m concerned, your premiums—they’re going to start to come down. We’re going to get this passed through the Senate. I feel so confident. Your deductibles, when it comes to deductibles, they were so ridiculous that nobody got to use their current plan, this nonexistent plan that I heard so many wonderful things about over the last three or four days after that, I mean it’s—I don’t think you’re going to hear so much right now. The insurance companies are fleeing. It’s been a catastrophe.
And this is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better and this is, make no mistake, this is a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it. Make no mistake. And I think most importantly, yes, premiums will be coming down. Yes, deductibles will be coming down, but very importantly, it’s a great plan, and ultimately that’s what it’s all about.
Now, according to the Associated Press, Trump is urging Republican Senators to help make the bill “more generous, more kind.” What changed? Here’s the most plausible scenario: Donald Trump likely had little to no idea what was in the bill he paraded out in the Rose Garden with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump now appears to want more in the bill and more money spent to provide care. But that could be tough to reconcile for the party without starting over in the House. “According to Senate rules, the bill passed through the body has to save $133 billion, the same amount of money as the House bill,” according to CNN. “That leaves Trump and Senate Republicans with little flexibility on spending.”