President Donald Trump told a bipartisan group of governors at a White House reception Monday morning that GOP tax reform would have to wait for lawmakers to move on repealing Obamacare, cautioning that, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said.
For health policy experts and Democrats who spent the last eight years overhauling the nation’s health care system in the face of GOP intransigence, Trump’s admission that health care is hard dripped with irony. Republicans, in the mean time, voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but made little progress on settling on what their replacement would look like, a conundrum that is haunting them now.
Trump’s comments come as the efforts by Republicans on Capitol Hill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act have been rife with disagreement. Trump himself has offered little guidance publicly when it comes to the approach he would like to see moving forward, beyond a vague promise that he would be offering his own Obamacare replacement plan.
“We have come up with a solution that’s really, really I think very good,” Trump said Monday, noting the recent meetings he has had with Govs. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Scott Walker (R-WI), as well as the confirmation earlier this month of his Health and Human Services Secretary, former Rep. Tom Price (R-GA).
GOP lawmakers have already approved of the a budget resolution putting in motion the process by which they intend to repeal Obamacare, using the manuever known as reconciliation, which avoids a filibuster in the Senate but is constrained to budget-related items.
Trump noted on Monday the process was complicated “statutorily and for budget purposes.”
Republicans also want to use the reconciliation process to overhaul the tax system, but will need to clear the decks on Obamacare first or lose their opportunity to repeal it. They have been bogged down by a variety of ACA-related debates, including how much of the law will need to be replaced before it is repealed, whether to keep its taxes to fund an alternative, what to do with the law’s Medicaid expansion, and whether to defund Planned Parenthood.
“Tax cutting has never been that easy, but it’s a tiny little ant compared to what we’re talking about with Obamacare,” Trump said Monday.