Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters

October 13, 2017

The President. Hello, everybody.

Q. Mr. President, why not just drop——

Q. What about the Iran deal?

Health Care Reform

Q. What do you say to critics who say that you ending the CSRs, the subsidies under Obamacare, will throw the markets into chaos?

The President. What it's going to do is, it's going to be time to negotiate health care that's going to be good for everybody. That money is a subsidy for insurance companies. Take a look at their stocks. Look where they are. They're going through the roof, from past—I don't know about today. But the insurance companies that made a fortune, that money was a subsidy and almost, you could say, a payoff to insurance companies.

And what we have to do is come up with great health care. Now, that's what I did partially yesterday; that's going to cover a big segment. But now, for the rest, we have to come up with great—whether it's going to be block grants or something else. And we just about have the votes.

Now, if the Democrats were smart, what they'd do is come and negotiate something where people could really get the kind of health care that they deserve, being citizens of our great country.

Q. Mr. President, aren't you concerned about poor people losing health care?


Q. Mr. President, on the Iranian nuclear deal, why not just scrap it altogether now? You've threatened to do so. Why not just end it now, withdraw?

The President. Because we'll see what happens over the next short period of time. And I can do that instantaneously. Just—I like a two-step process much better.

Q. Why?

Health Care Reform

Q. Mr. President, aren't you concerned about poor people losing health care?

The President. No, because I think what we'll do is we'll be able to renegotiate so that everybody gets. We just took care of a big chunk, and now we'll take care of the other chunk. What would be nice—if the Democratic leaders could come over to the White House, we'll negotiate some deal that's good for everybody. That's what I'd like. But they're always a block vote against everything. They're like obstructionists. If they came over, maybe we could make a deal. But the subsidy is really a subsidy for the insurance company. That's not going to people; that's making insurance companies rich.

Jon [Jonathan Karl, ABC News].

Iran Q. Mr. President, you had said you were going to rip the Iran deal up, and called it the worst ever.

The President. Well, I may do that. I may do that. The deal is terrible. So what we've done is, through the certification process, we'll have Congress take a look at it, and I may very well do that. But I like a two-step process much better.

John [John Roberts, Fox News].

Health Care Reform

Q. The moves that you've made on Obamacare here, with the Executive order yesterday——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——and then removing the subsidies.

The President. It's got great support.

Q. Is that a way for you to put pressure on Democrats to say, look, you're going to lose it, come to the table and negotiate with us?

The President. Well, they've already lost a big chunk, because as you know, that's a big chunk, and it's very popular. And you will have millions and millions of people sign up under that. You could say—I mean, I'm not doing that consciously. I will say this, John—I will say that the Democrats should come to me; I would even go to them. Because I'm only interested in one thing: getting great health care for this country. That was a big chunk. And as far as the subsidy is concerned, I don't want to make the insurance companies rich. If you look at their stock price over the last number of years, take a look at what's happened with those insurance companies. They're making a fortune by getting that kind of money.



Q. Sir, how long will you give Rex Tillerson to get this new deal? And are strikes on Iran still a possibility if you don't get what you want?

The President. We will see what happens with Iran. We're very unhappy with Iran. They have not treated us with the kind of respect that they should be treating. They should have thanked Barack Obama for making that deal. They were gone. They were economically gone. He infused 100 to 150 billion dollars into their economy. He gave them 1.7 billion in cash. And they should be, "Thank you, President Obama." They didn't say that.

Opioid Crisis

Q. On opioids, your wife is with you. She's been talking about the opioid crisis. You said you would declare a national emergency more than 2 months ago. What's taking so long?

The President. So we are studying national emergency right now. Believe it or not, doing national emergency, as you understand, is a very big statement.

We will be doing that. My wife Melania, who happens to be right here, finds that subject to be of such vital importance, and she's very much involved. And as you know, she's on the Committee and really wants to be involved in that process.

Iran/Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom/President Emmanuel Macron of France

Q. Have you spoken with Theresa May or Emmanuel Macron—— The President. Yes.

Q. ——about the Iranian deal?

The President. Yes.

Q. What did they say to you? What did you say to them?

The President. They would love me to stay in, only for one reason: Look at the kind of money that's being sent. You know, Iran is spending money in various countries. And I've always said it, and I say to them: Don't do anything. Don't worry about it. Take all the money you can get. They're all friends of mine.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Actually, Emmanuel called up, and he talked to me. And I said, look, Emmanuel, they just gave Renault a lot of money. Take their money; enjoy yourselves. But we'll see what happens.

Iran has to behave much differently.

Q. Mr. President, why do you keep going after Puerto Rico?

Health Care Reform

Q. You promised that you would help people who are struggling. The CSR payment looks like it will hurt low-income people.

The President. The CSR payments, if you take a look at CSR payments, that money is going to insurance companies to prop up insurance companies.

Q. To help lower-income people.

The President. That money is going to insurance companies to lift up their stock price, and that's not what I'm about.

Take a look at who those insurance companies support, and I guarantee you one thing: It's not Donald Trump.

Q. So you don't think it will raise premiums at all?


Iran/Puerto Rico

Q. Mr. President, why do you keep going after Puerto Rico, when——

Q. Mr. President, the JCPOA fix that's being floated by Senators Cotton, Corker, and Rubio that would remove the sunset provisions, strengthen IAEA inspections——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——do some other things. Does that meet the bar for you, or do you need more?

The President. Well, I think we're going to take a look, John, at what happens. We're going to see what happens. We're going to see what they come back with. They may come back with something that's very satisfactory to me, and if they don't, within a very short period of time, I'll terminate the deal.

And as far as Puerto Rico is concerned, I love Puerto Rico. We've done——

Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

Q. Yes, why do you keep going after to Puerto Rico and saying you won't stay there forever? The President. We've done a great job.

Q. You didn't say that about Texas or Louisiana.

The President. Yes.

Q. You say it about Puerto Rico. Why?

The President. We've done a great job in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has to get the infrastructure going. We're helping them with their infrastructure.

But most important on Puerto Rico is, their electric plants are essentially gone. Now, they were gone before the hurricane; they were in bankruptcy, they owed $9 billion—I think it was $9 billion. But the plants, as you know, were—the electric was a disaster. After the storm, even more so.

We have to help them get the plants rebuilt. That's a long-term project, unfortunately. But we have to help them.

But I love the people of Puerto Rico, and we're going to help them.

Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts/Puerto Rican Debt Relief

Q. On Puerto Rico, Mr. President, do you want to make sure that there remains a very bright line between hurricane relief and debt relief so——

The President. Well, you have to watch it.

Q. ——that the two don't become comingled?

The President. You can't say there was a hurricane, and now we're going to spend x dollars. And we also have to do something with all the money that's been invested, mostly private. The Government is going to have to come before that money, because the Government is going to want security. They're going to have to become before that money. And I'm sure we'll be able to work that out.

But the Puerto Rican people have tremendous spirit. When I was there, and I looked at the way that—what they have to go through. But they had a lot of problems. We're going to help them straighten it out.

Q. Are you going against your own people on Iran?

The President. Jon.

North Korea

Q. Wherever you are on North Korea, you raised some eyebrows when you said this is "the calm before the storm." What's next on North Korea?

The President. We're going to see what happens with North Korea. That's all I can say. We're going to see what happens. We're totally prepared for numerous things. We are going to see what happens with North Korea.

Q. Are we on the——

The President. I will say, look, if something can happen where we negotiate, I'm always open to that. But if it's going to be something other than negotiation, believe me, we are ready, more so than we have ever been.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:38 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. A reporter referred to Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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