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Print pool #4 - AHCA things
Astead W. Herndon • Boston Globe
March 24, 2017: 05:12 PM

Pool was escorted into the Oval Office at 4:11 p.m. The President was behind his desk with 30 Medal of Honor recipients, about 1/3 of the total living persons who have received the medal.

Trump praised their courage in battle and said they were "more brave" than him. He called him "our greatest heroes and said "your acts of valor inspire us."

The President also received a book called "Portraits of Valor" from the members of the Medal of Honor society. The ceremony ended at 4:15 p.m.


Following his statements, the recipients were escorted out of the room and the President took questions from the pool about health care. The questioning began at 4:25 and lasted about 10 minutes. The President was flanked by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Vice President Mike Pence. A readout is below.

"We were very very close. It was a very tight margin. We had no Democratic support," the President said in his opening statement. "I've been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we could do, politically speaking, is let Obamacare explode. It's exploding right now."

He mentioned Arizona, Tennessee, and Kentucky specifically as states which are experiencing a rise in premiums.

"We couldn't quite get there, we were a small number of votes short," Trump said. "There are many people who don't realize how good our bill was." He said the people don't realize how good the bill was because they didn't realize there were two legislative phases to go.

"If [Democrats] got together with us, and got us a real health care bill, I'd be totally okay with that. The losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because they own Obamacare. They 100% own it," Trump said. "They have Obamacare for a little while longer until it ceases to exist, which it will at some point in the near future.

"When they all become civilized and get together, and try to work out a great health care bill for the people of this country, we're open to it," Trump said. "I want to thank the Republican Party. I want to thank Paul Ryan -- he worked very, very hard. I can tell you that."

"I worked as a team player and would've loved to see this pass, but again, I think you know I was very clear -- there wasn't a speech I made, very few -- where I didn't say that the best thing that could happen is the thing that happened today," Trump said. "We will have a truly great healthcare bill in the future after this mess known as Obamacare explodes."

"This was an interesting period of time. We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty and we learned a lot about the vote getting process. And we learned about very arcane rules in both the Senate and the House," Trump said. "Certainly for me it was a very interesting experience, but for me, it'll be an experience that leads to an even better health care plan."

QUESTIONS (All answers are from Trump) [If you haven't seen a TV feed I tried to transcribe most portions here]

Q: Is it now your intention to go for tax reform? What's next?

A: "We are going, right now, for tax reform. Which we could've done earlier but this really would've worked out better if we could've had Democrat support. Remember we had no Democrat support. So now we're going to go for tax reform."

Q: And your confident in Speaker Ryan's leadership and ability to get this done?

A: "Yes I am. I like Speaker Ryan. He worked very hard. Lots of different groups. Lots of factions and there's been a long history of liking and disliking within the Republican Party long before I got here. I have a great relationship with the Republican Party but it seems like both sides like Trump. And that's good. You see that more than anybody. I'm not going to speak badly about anybody within the Republican Party. Certainly there's a history but I really think Paul worked hard. And so we'll probably going to start going very strongly on big tax cuts. Tax reform that will be next."

Q: Is it fair to the American people to let Obamacare explode?

A: "It's going to happen. There's not much you can do about it. Bad things are going to happen with [crosstalk]. There's not much you can do to help it. I've been saying that for a year and a half. It's not sustainable...there's no way out."

More: "As we got closer and closer everyone was talking about how wonderful [Obamacare] was. Now it will go back to real life, people will se how bad it is and it's getting much worse. When President Obama left, 2017 was going to be a very bad year for Obamacare. Going to see explosive premium increases and the deductibles are so high that no one is going to be able to use it."

"I honestly believe the Democrats will come to us and say let's get together and get a great health care bill or plan that's really great for the people in this country and I think that's going to happen."

Q: You could've done this without the bill in the House without any Democratic support? Why do you think you weren't able to craft a deal among the Republican Party?

A: "We were very close. We were anywhere from 10 to 15 votes short. Could've even been closer than that -- although you'll never know because you'll never know how they voted. We would've been 10 votes maybe closer. It's very hard to get 100%. You're talking about a large number votes among any group. We were very close to doing it. But when you get no votes from the other side, meaning the Democrats, it's really a difficult situation.

Q: Will you reach out to Democrats now?

A: No i think we need to let Obamacare go its way for a little while. Then we'll see how things go. I love to see things do well but they can't. It's not a question of I hope it does well...I want great healthcare for the people of this nation. But it can't do well. It imploded, and soon will explode. And it's not going to pretty. The Democrats don't want to see this happen so they're going to reach out, when they're ready. And whenever they're ready, we're ready.

Q: Do you feel betrayed by the House Freedom Caucus?

A: "I'm not betrayed. They're friends of mine. I'm disappointed because we could've had it. So I'm disappointed. I'm a little surprised I could tell you. We really had it, it was pretty much there...but what's going to come out of it is a better bill. Because there were things in his bill that I didn't particularly like. But both parties can get together and do real health care...Obamacare was rammed down everyone's throat. 100% democrat. Having bipartisan would be a big, big improvement...I'm disappointed but I'm friends of mine. You know this is a very hard time for them."

Q: You mentioned that there were things in this bill that you didn't necessarily love? What exactly were those?

A: "I think there are things I could've loved more. And if we had bipartisan than i think we could've had a health care bill that would've been the ultimate. And I think the Democrats know that also, and some day in the not to distant future, it'll happen. Ive been in office, what, 64 days?...I've never said repeal and replace Obamacare within 64 days. I have a long time. I want to have a great health care bill and plan and we will. it will happen...I think there will be some democratic support that will happen and it'll be....[fades]. I think we had a very good bill. i think it'll be even better the next time around. And it won't be too long of a period of time."

Follow up: But anything specifically you want to see change

A: "I don't want to talk specifics. But there are things I woudl've liked even more. But I feel that overall this was a very good bill. And i thought Dr. Tom Price, who really is amazing, on health care and his knowledge, I thought he did an amazing job. Same with Mike Pence. These two worked so hard and did an amazing job. Thank you so much!"

He ignored further questions and pool was escorted shortly after.

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