President Donald Trump promised he would not sign any piece of health care reform legislation if it is “not going to take care of the people” during an interview that aired Wednesday evening on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Trump addressed the controversial American Health Care Act introduced by House GOP leadership last week to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. When pressed by Carlson about projections the plan would have a negative impact on middle- to low-wage earners in the heartland, the president insisted the current proposal will not be the final product.
“Because I don’t care about me anymore. I care about the people out there.”
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“And by the way, if we’re not going to take care of the people, I’m not signing anything. I’m not going to be doing it, just so you understand,” Trump told Carlson, noting that some portions of the current bill may not be entirely “consistent” with “the message of the last election” at this point.
“A lot of things aren’t consistent. But these are going to be negotiated. We’ve got to go to the Senate. We’re going to see what happens in the Senate,” Trump said. “Right now, we have five or six senators that look like maybe they’re not going to — I’m talking about Republicans, because we’re not going to get one Democrat to vote for it.”
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The president charged Democrats with putting strict adherence to partisanship above the good of the country in the health care debate.
“They’re going to vote against it. Because of selfish[ness], because of stupidity, because it’s politics — it’s really bad for our country, what’s going on … If I had the greatest bill in the history of the world, they would not vote for us, because they hate the Republicans, probably hate me, but they hate the Republicans so badly that they can’t see straight,” Trump added. “So they’re always going to vote against us. It’s really a shame.”
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Calling himself “an arbitrator,” Trump said he thrives on negotiating between opposing parties and seeking to find common ground.
“We have the conservatives, we have the more liberal side of the Republican Party, we have the Left, we have the Right within the Republicans themselves, we got a lot of fighting going on, we have no Democrats … maybe we’ll get one along the way,” Trump said. “Now, if we could get … some Democrat vote, we could change the bill. We could have it different. We could have a repeal, which really, essentially we have anyway. But we could have a specific repeal … For Phase 3, we’re going to get some Democrats, I believe. Because phase three, there will be incentives added, and there are so many good things.”
As for the controversy surrounding his claim that former President Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower during the presidential election, Trump predicted that the country is “going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”
“But, we will be submitting certain things and I will be perhaps speaking about this next week, but it’s right now before the committee, and I think I want to leave it. I have a lot of confidence in the committee,” Trump said. “But wiretap covers a lot of different things,” the president said, appearing to offer himself cover. “And don’t forget, when I say wiretapping, those words were in quotes. That really covers, because wiretapping is pretty old-fashioned stuff. But that really covers surveillance and many other things. And nobody ever talks about the fact that it was in quotes, but that’s a very important thing.”
When Carlson asked Trump about the portion of his 2005 tax returns leaked Tuesday evening, the president said the leak “certainly” didn’t come “from the White House.”
“And I don’t know, I have no idea where they got it, but it’s illegal, and you’re not supposed to have it, and it’s not supposed to be leaked,” Trump said. “And it’s certainly not an embarrassing tax return at all, but it’s an illegal thing. They’ve been doing it, they’ve done it before, and I think it’s a disgrace.”
As the tax return showed, Trump paid $38 million in taxes that year. Carlson noted that “it showed that you paid about a little less than 25 percent federal taxes on your income that year, which was more than a lot of people, but it’s still less than the 40 percent that wage earners, people who don’t have investments would be paying.”
“Is it fair to have a tax system — I know you’re doing tax reform soon — where wage earners pay twice the tax that investors do?” Carlson asked.
Trump noted that “it is not fair, because the income was actually $250 million for the year, and if you notice, there was about $100 million in tax deductions and depreciation and various other charges. So actually the income was at the 250 level, and if you look at it, it’s really a lower number, and no, I don’t think it’s fair. And I’ve been complaining about it for a long time.”
The president said that he’d like to see taxes “go down” for both upper-class and middle-class Americans alike.
“It has to go down. Well, it’s going to go — first of all, it’s going to go way down for the middle class. It’s going to go way down for business. I’m going to try and get the 15 percent level if we can for the business,” Trump said.
“Because I don’t care about me anymore. I care about the people out there,” Trump added. “Me, I’m very satisfied. I’m not going to go back into building major buildings someday. I’m not going to be doing what I used to do, and used to have a good time doing it. This is what I’m doing now, and I’m saving a lot of money … and we’ve saved a tremendous amount of money in government already, and that’s just the beginning.”
Trump said that one of the most pressing reasons he wants to take care of health care reform immediately is because it must come first before he can begin implementing tax reforms.
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“One of the reasons I want to get it finished, ideally soon, is because I want to start on the taxes. People are paying too high, companies are paying too high, it’s affecting our jobs, it’s affecting a lot of things,” Trump said. “Now with that being said, the country’s doing, right now, really well. The level of optimism is up highest it’s been in 15 years. You see the kind of numbers coming out, it’s amazing the enthusiasm.”
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