Trump hits Democrats for not joining effort to fix health care law.
Pushing for bill to get through before recess
Standing with two families victimized by Obamacare, President Trump shamed Democrats on Tuesday for not joining Republicans working to fix the health care law that he called a “catastrophe.”
It was part of an aggressive push to get a health care bill through the Senate this summer and put Democrats on the spot for hamstringing the effort.
“The Democrats have let you down big league,” the president said on the tarmac after arriving in Air Force One in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he met with the two families.
Mr. Trump repeatedly hammered congressional Democrats in recent days for being “obstructionists” rather than helping repair the health care law or allow honest debate of the rest of his agenda.
“Millions of American families — and I mean millions — continue to suffer from Obamacare while congressional Democrats obstruct our efforts to rescue them,” he said.
The GOP-run House passed a health care bill in May but the GOP-run Senate is drafting a new version behind closed doors.
It remains uncertain how the two bills will be reconciled or whether they will need Democratic votes to get it passed in the House, where rifts in the Republican conference threaten the legislation.
Democrats passed President Obama’s signature health care law in 2010 without any Republican support. Democrats have steadfastly opposed any effort to rewrite the law, although most acknowledge the necessity of making some changes.
Their top leaders, however, have said they will only help fix Obamacare if Republicans agree in advance to drop all efforts to repeal it.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said Republicans were hiding the bill because they were afraid of how Americans would react to repealing Obamacare benefits.
“We are in the midst of one of the greatest acts of legislative malpractice Washington has ever seen. Senate Republicans are squirreled away behind closed doors, writing a bill they won’t let the public read,” he told reporters. “They don’t want the American people to see how poorly they would do under this bill.”
The effort to repeal and replace Obamacare is at the front of the president’s agenda that is stuck in Congress, with tax reform and an infrastructure program piled up behind it.
Time is running short to break the logjam before Congress’ summer recess.
In Milwaukee, Mr. Trump described the health insurance ordeal suffered by the two families:
Michael and Tammy Kushman were forced from one insurer to another, unable to keep their doctors or their plans, as Mr. Obama had repeatedly promised without qualification during the campaign. Their monthly premiums jumped from $600 to over $1,400.
Robert and Sarah Stoll were forced out of retirement to pay their bills and then penalized by the Obamacare law, stripped of subsidies and compelled to repay thousands of dollars to the government.
“These are sad but familiar stories in Wisconsin where Obamacare premiums have doubled,” he said. “Obamacare is one of the greatest catastrophes that our country has singed into law and the victims are innocent hard-working Americans like Michael and Tammy, Robert and Sarah.”
Mr. Trump held a similar event last week in Cincinnati, Ohio, with two families struggling with Obamacare.
Earlier at the White House, the president held a lunch meeting with 15 key Republican senators, working to build party unity behind the health care legislation.
“Obamacare has been broken and it’s a broken promise,” said Mr. Trump, listing the series of Obamacare’s broken promises.
“Americans were told that if you liked your doctor, you’ll keep your doctor. That was a lie. They were told that if you liked your plan, you would keep your plan. That was a lie,” he said. “Americans were told the premiums would go down by $2,500 per year and instead their premiums went up to levels that nobody thought even possible.”
He said that Democrats’ new motto “resist” was fitting because they had adopted a purely obstructionist stance.
Democrats wouldn’t provide one vote if Republicans put up the best health care or tax cut bill in U.S. history, Mr. Trump said.
He promised that the final legislation would be a “phenomenal bill,” although he wouldn’t say when it would be ready.
He said the health care law being drafted was “generous, kind, with heart — that’s what I’m saying. We’ll come out with a real bill, not Obamacare, and the results are going to be fantastic.”
President Trump, accompanied by Michael and Tammy Kushman (left) and Robert and Sarah Stoll (right) says millions of American families “suffer from Obamacare” in a speech in Milwaukee on Tuesday. He accused congressional Democrats of being obstructionist, even saying, “The Democrats have let you down big league.”