Donald Trump turns on Republicans over health care failure

Rob Crilly
US President Donald Trump  - AFP

Donald Trump is showing few signs of moving on from the health care debacle, choosing yesterday(SUN) to heap scorn on conservatives in his own party for helping Democrats save Obamacare.

After pulling Friday’s vote on the divisive health care bill, he and his officials said the president would quickly switch his focus to other priorities.

However, his Sunday morning tweet revealed he was still intent on settling scores.

“Democrats are smiling in DC that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare,” he posted, reminding Rightwingers that they had torpedoed a bill that would have ended federal funding for a group that performs abortions.

Mr Trump was forced into a humiliating climbdown when it became clear his bill to repeal Obamacare did not have the support it needed to become law.

He had spent the week trying to win over 30 or so hardline members of the Freedom Caucus who believed the American Health Care Act did not go far enough in undoing key features of Obamacare.

Mr Trump at first blamed Democrats for sabotaging a key Republican policy and promised to move quickly on to tax reform. Meanwhile aides and party strategists briefed that the defeat would soon be shrugged off as Obamacare collapsed under its own weight.

However, Mr Trump’s bitter broadside is a reminder of his thin skin, his travails over a turbulent first two and half months in power and his reputation as wall builder rather than a bridge builder.

The defeat is all the tougher when it comes to a policy that became an article of faith for Republicans ever since Obamacare was signed into law seven years ago.

Analysts also pointed out that Mr Trump’s populist takeover of the party had never reconciled its competing wings, including conservatives who suspected their president of liberal leanings.

Failing to pass a bill when the party controls the White House and both houses of Congress is particularly embarrassing.

Reince Priebus, White House chief of staff, said Mr Trump had hit the bullseye with a tweet that pointed the finger at Republicans who should have been intent on repealing Obamacare.

“I think it’s time for our folks to come together and I also think it’s time to potentially to get a few moderate Democrats on board,” he told Fox News Sunday, suggesting an evolving strategy to get bills through Congress.

There was some comfort for Mr Trump over the weekend.

US President Donald Trump speaks during the Women in Healthcare panel at the White House Credit:  JIM WATSON

Thousands of his supporters took to the streets across the US to declare their faith in the president – a reminder that Mr Trump won power by connecting with voters despite a string of campaign blunders that would have sunk other candidates.

“Being a businessman, he'll not take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Tony Nappi, a 71-year-old from Trinity, Florida. “He'll get the job done.”

Friendly TV hosts pointed the finger at Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, for failing to whip the necessary votes while party strategists said Republicans needed to remember they were now in power.

“There are some folks in the Republican House caucus who have yet to make the pivot from complaining to governing,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “And this is a White House controlled by a politician who is not really trying to lead a party.”

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