President Donald Trump said Republicans “blew it” on health care and will lose the 2020 election if they don’t devise a plan to repeal Obamacare that protects coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
“We blew it the last time, man I was fed a bill of goods,” Trump said Tuesday in a speech at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual spring dinner. “We can’t run away” from health care, he added, saying that if the party doesn’t address the issue: “We’ll lose.”
Democrats “have health care right now and we need to take that away from them,” Trump said, laying out a strategy for the 2020 campaign. He said that Republicans would win back the House of Representatives if they campaign on a pledge to end Obamacare and replace it in their first vote following the election with a cheaper program that still protects sick people from being denied coverage by insurers.
Republicans have struggled mightily since Obamacare became law to reach consensus on such a plan.
It wasn’t clear if Trump was aware that reporters had been allowed to cover his speech. At one point he said he expected it to be leaked to the press. Later, he said it would be dangerous for Democrats to win the 2020 election, calling them “stone-cold crazy.”
He used the address to stake out positions and potential themes for his own re-election campaign, and to assail and mock potential opponents and critics. The president singled out former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s been contemplating a bid for the Democratic nomination but come under scrutiny over allegations by two women of inappropriate contact. “I was going to say welcome to the world, Joe. You having a good time, Joe?” Trump told the gathering.
Trump also derided Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive lawmaker from New York who has championed the so-called Green New Deal package of policies for combating climate change.
“The Green New Deal, done by a young bartender, 29 years old,” Trump said, referring to Ocasio-Cortez, who worked in a restaurant before entering politics. He urged Republicans to let Democrats proceed with the Green New Deal so that the GOP could run against it.
The failure by Republicans to overturn the Affordable Care Act has long been a sore point for the president. In recent weeks, however, he has again publicly attacked the late Sen. John McCain, who in 2017 cast the decisive vote against an Affordable Care Act-change bill that branded as a repeal of the health law, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.