Trump’s Risky ‘Let Obamacare Explode’ Approach

Conservatives warn delayed repeal of Affordable Care Act could bring terrible political cost

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 27 Mar 2017 at 7:29 AM

In the wake of an embarrassing defeat of the House GOP’s American Health Care Act, President Donald Trump has suggested a potentially risky new strategy on health care: Wait for Obamacare to collapse.

“I’ve been saying for the last year-and-a-half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now,” Trump said in the Oval Office Friday, adding that the Democrats “own Obamacare … 100 percent.”

“The president does have things he wants to accomplish. He’s not going to sit and wait for Congress to sit around and do the right thing.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney doubled down on the “wait for collapse” strategy in an interview Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” When host Chuck Todd asked Mulvaney about the administration’s plan to revisit a health care fight on Capitol Hill, Mulvaney said it wouldn’t happen until Obamacare “breaks” and the Democrats receive the blame. Until then, Trump is “going to move on.”

“And I think that’s the one thing that folks have not started talking about yet … is that the end result here is that people back home are going to be hurt,” Mulvaney said. “Now, the Democrats will get blamed for it, because there’s no question now. It’s not Trumpcare in this country, it’s not Ryancare, it is Obamacare. They will get blamed, OK?”

When Todd pushed Mulvaney, asking if the repealing and replacing of Obamacare is “no longer a 100-day priority” for the president, Mulvaney said, “No.”

“The president does have things he wants to accomplish. He’s not going to sit and wait for Congress to sit around and do the right thing,” Mulvaney said.

The tactic of delaying the fulfillment of one of Trump’s key campaign promises to a nebulous future date did not sit well with many conservatives — many of whom warned of great political risk in following the strategy.

“The strategy to ‘let Obamacare fail’ is to knowingly let Americans become collateral damage to Obama’s plan w/ no way out. Cruel,” Amanda Carpenter, a former aide to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), tweeted.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an opponent of the AHCA, told CBS News' "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson that "we have to revisit" health care reform before too much time has passed.

"Well, John, first, let's say the president is right that the Democrats gave us Obamacare, and the failure of the bill this week doesn't solve the problems of Obamacare," Cotton said. "It is continuing to get worse. And our health care system is groaning under the weight of Obamacare. So we have to revisit it. We now have the time to do it in a more deliberate and careful fashion."

"And the president is simply stating a fact, that the entire health care system is growing under the weight of Obamacare," Cotton added. "We don't have a choice to revisit or not revisit it. We have to revisit it."

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding House Freedom Caucus member who staunchly opposed the AHCA, released a statement following its demise Friday in which he reaffirmed that repealing Obamacare in its entirety "remains one of my top priorities."

"The AHCA did not have the support it needed, neither in Congress nor among the American people," Jordan said. "Now, House Republicans owe it to our constituents to immediately get back to the drawing board and bring forward a bolder effort to replace the failing Obamacare with a plan to reduce costs by increasing choice and competition."

On "Fox News Sunday," Jordan told host Chris Wallace that Republicans cannot afford to play "the blame game." Instead, he argued, the party must do "the responsible thing" and "do what we told the voters we were going to do."

"So, let's be responsible, let's get back to work and do what we told the American people we were going to accomplish, which is repeal Obamacare and replace it with a patient-centered health care program," Jordan said.

Trump issued a tweet Saturday in which he said, "ObamaCare will explode and we will all get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for THE PEOPLE. Do not worry!"

But for the time being, the repealing and replacing of Obamacare has been shoved to the back burner as the president turns to getting tax reform done with GOP lawmakers.

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