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Pelosi blasts Trump’s ‘rookie error’ on ObamaCare repeal

Greg Nash

President Trump may be a master dealmaker, but he made a “rookie error” in racing to repeal ObamaCare without first winning GOP support, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.

“Rookie’s error, Donald Trump,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol. “You may be a great negotiator; rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day you clearly are not ready.”

{mosads}The date is significant, as Thursday marks seven years since Obama signed the bill into law, though it appears the House may delay until Friday or next week, several lawmakers said.

“It didn’t look like today was going to be when we’re going to vote,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), after leaving a meeting with committee chairmen and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who controls the floor schedule. 

Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are struggling to secure the roughly 215 votes they need to pass the measure through the lower chamber, with opposition coming from two sides. 

Conservatives, particularly those in the House Freedom Caucus, say the GOP bill keeps too much of ObamaCare intact, particularly insurance subsidies — which they deem an entitlement — and a minimum slate of benefits that health plans are required to cover. 

Moderate Republicans, meanwhile, are vowing opposition out of concern that the package will put health coverage out of reach for huge blocs of constituents, particularly low-income people currently covered by ObamaCare’s subsidies and Medicaid expansion, both of which would be eliminated under the GOP bill.

The combination has left Trump, Ryan and other GOP leaders scrambling to twist arms, provide incentives and otherwise entice wary Republicans to get behind a repeal effort or face a humiliating defeat on one of their most prominent and enduring campaign promises. 

To that end, Ryan huddled with members of the moderate Tuesday Group in the Capitol late Wednesday night, while Trump met Thursday morning at the White House with Freedom Caucus members. In both cases, however, wary lawmakers seemed not to be swayed.

Trump is now slated to meet with the Tuesday Group on Thursday as well.

“My position hasn’t changed,” Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) said leaving the White House Thursday afternoon. “I’m not saying it couldn’t. … This is still fluid.”

Pelosi, known as a master vote-getter who was vital in moving ObamaCare through the lower chamber as Speaker, said Trump and the Republicans simply picked the wrong strategy.

Republicans were “so eager … to be mean-spirited” on the anniversary of ObamaCare’s passage that they didn’t consider the possibility that they wouldn’t have the votes they need.

“You do not bring up your bill just to be spiteful to the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “You build your consensus in your party — and in the Congress, hopefully — and then you bring up the bill.”

From the policy side, Pelosi hammered the GOP’s bill as an enormous transfer of wealth, taking hundreds of billions of dollars in health benefits from working families in order to fund tax cuts for the most wealthy Americans.

“TrumpCare is a moral monstrosity that will devastate seniors and hardworking Americans,” she said. “It’s clear that this is not a health care bill. This is a tax bill.” 

During the ObamaCare debate, the Republicans under then-Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered an alternative proposal on the floor. But Pelosi said Thursday that the Democrats won’t be following that path and offering a substitute. That’s largely because the Democrats support the ObamaCare law as it stands, although Pelosi also offered another, more political reason, driving the strategy. 

“We didn’t have any thought that they would allow such a thing,” Pelosi said. 

“If this bill were to fail today — rookie day — I stand ready to negotiate with them on how we go forward, incorporating some of their ideas, saving face for them in some areas,” Pelosi added. 

“This is a bad day for them. It’s bad if they win, and it’s bad if they lose because of what destruction they will wreak in the lives of the American people. And the American people know it.”

Ben Kamisar contributed.

Tags Boehner Donald Trump John Boehner Paul Ryan

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