It was the Dems: Trump’s absurd first response to the TrumpRyanCare failure

REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump talking to journalists at the Oval Office of the White House after the AHCA health care bill was pulled before a vote on Friday.

Dear President Trump,

Just a question. What exactly, or even approximately, is wrong with you?

I know your relationships to facts and logic are not normal, perhaps because you are so much smarter than the rest of us that we cannot understand your approach to facts and logic, or perhaps because your life experience has taught you that factual accuracy and logical discipline are vastly overrated, or perhaps because you are a compulsive liar, or perhaps facts you don’t like are literally invisible to you, or perhaps because you suffer from some other malady involving some combination of egomania, short attention span, ignorance of the basic requirements of your new job. I confess that I don’t know.

But — for the majority of the population that didn’t vote for you, doesn’t approve of your performance in office, and worries about whatever is wrong with you and how it will affect our nation — it is more than a little unsettling to have to keep asking these questions, especially when you engage in conduct almost every day that makes the question seem more urgent.

There are many examples to illustrate the behaviors that lead us (or, at least, me) to ask you these questions, but a recent and very relevant one was your decision to blame Democrats for the failure of your health care bill in the House.

It’s fairly unusual for a president to call up a newspaper, especially one he routinely insults by calling it the “failing New York Times,” to explain his thinking about why the health care bill failed. But then your explanation to the Times made little sense, including this complaint.

“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times.

It’s a technically factually accurate statement that no Democrats voted for the bill, although no Republicans voted for it either, since it was hauled down before coming to a vote based on the understanding that it would fail. So this one isn’t a simple fact problem, it’s more a logic problem, or maybe just one of those statements that makes us wonder what our new president is up to in the facts and logic area.

The statement I quoted above was not the only thing Trump said to advance the absurd hope of blaming the Democrats, and he has since blamed others including the hard-line Republicans who call themselves the “Freedom Caucus.” But, for the purpose of this post, I’m not playing that game. He started out blaming the Dems. He has since blamed others without retracting his original blame statement, although never in any version suggesting that he had made any sort of mistake along the way.

In the Failing Times interview, Trump blamed the Democrats but:

  • made no mention of the fact that Republicans hold majorities in both houses of Congress and therefore needed no Democratic votes to pass this measure (which was cleverly designed to be the kind of measure that could not be filibustered and therefore could be passed with no Democratic votes even in the Senate);
  • made no mention of any of the countless features of the TrumpRyanCare bill that Democrats deeply opposed;
  • made no mention of the fact that neither Trump himself nor Speaker Paul Ryan nor their minions made any effort to even ascertain whether there was anything the Republicans could put into or take out of the bill that might cause some Democrats to consider voting for it;
  • laid no blame, at least at first, on House Republicans who opposed the bill, and, therefore, were rather obviously the real reason the bill had to be pulled;
  • made no mention of the fact that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) passed without any votes from Republicans, which was an important step on the path to undermining old traditions of bipartisanship. (The final vote on the law that created Medicare in 1965 was substantially bipartisan);
  • certainly made no mention of the fact that during the campaign, Trump, who would like to fancy himself a campaign promise-keeper, promised during the campaign to sign into law a health care bill that would cover “everyone” at government expense, and instead finds himself promoting a bill that would, according to the most reliable estimates available (made by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office) cause about 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance during the decade ahead (although, thanks to the same bill, taxes will fall by $883 billion with about 30 percent of those tax savings accruing to the benefit of richest 2 percent of Americans);

So maybe, just maybe, if he had a normal relationship with facts and logic, the president should not have been (or pretended to be) so surprised that no Democrats supported the TrumpRyanCare bill to subsidize health insurance for 24 million fewer Americans while granting significant tax breaks to the wealthy.

And maybe he wasn’t surprised. Maybe he was just spinning a bad situation and understands that blaming Democrats plays well with his base. Most politicians use spin, but most of them have learned how to do it so you don’t feel quite so inclined to laugh out loud when they are doing it.

Trump’s rant was so absurd that, at least according to the Times, his own aides tried to talk him out of it. Here’s that passage:

After it was all over, the president dutifully blamed the Democrats, a party out of power and largely leaderless, after turning his back on their offers to negotiate on a bipartisan package that would have addressed shortcomings in the Affordable Care Act while preserving its core protections for poor and working-class patients.

Several aides advised him the argument was nonsensical, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction.

If you’d enjoy a link to Bill Maher’s opening monologue from Friday night, in which he discusses the TrumpRyanCare failure, it’s here, but caution: It contains foul language.

A small P.S.: As I admitted above, since I first drafted this post but before I  put it up this morning, the president has also cast some blame toward some of the Republicans who opposed the TrumpRyanCare bill, and then went to his favorite medium (Twitter) to announce that his followers need not worry about the failure of the bill because they can take comfort in his prediction that “Obamacare will explode” so no one needs to worry about the happy ending to this momentary setback on the inevitable march to making America great.

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Comments (32)

  1. Submitted by Michael Hess on 03/27/2017 - 09:35 am.

    Could be a Daily Feature

    Perhaps MinnPost could add along with the Daily Glean a Daily Lie which will be the latest alternative reality coming out of the White House.

    Note also that in this same dialog he has applied revisionist history tactics to his promise to repeal Obamacare “Day 1”, “very quickly”, etc….. now saying he never promised to do that.

  2. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 03/27/2017 - 09:53 am.

    Where does the buck stop?

    Never with Trump. The liar in Chief never takes responsibility for anything, its always someone else’s fault. He was so ‘depressed” about Democrats not helping him destroy their own policy that he had to go golfing for the 12th time in his nine weeks as president.

  3. Submitted by Walt Cygan on 03/27/2017 - 10:15 am.

    One question

    I’d like someone to ask Trump one simple question concerning the lack of Democratic support for the failed health care bill: “Of all of the phone calls you made to ask for support for the bill, how many of those calls were made to Democrats?”

    My guess is that he made zero calls to Democrats. They didn’t think they needed Democratic Party support. They just thought they could strong-arm GOPers to support a wretched bill.

  4. Submitted by Tim Smith on 03/27/2017 - 10:32 am.

    You mean

    It’s all the fault of a vast left wing conspiracy?

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/27/2017 - 10:41 am.

    “Obamacare Will Explode”

    Here’s the take-away from that bit of gloating:

    Republicans are asked to take comfort from the fact that millions of Americans will be left without health insurance, due in no small part to their failure to come up with an alternative.

    The American public has been put on notice that the Trump administration will not carry out its duties to see that the ACA is administered properly. Likewise, Republicans have no intention of coming back and trying to fix, rather than repeal, the law.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 03/27/2017 - 10:50 am.

      What really concerns me now . . . .

      What really concerns me now is the Trump and his crew won’t simply wait for Obamacare to “explode”, but that they’ll continue to actively work to undermine the law, and then – if it does finally fail – blame the Democrats and the law itself while completely refusing to accept responsibility for their part in bringing that to pass.

      And of course, Americans lose.

      And I have no idea what can be done to keep things from happening that way. Because they’re in power. And if they really care that much about “Party over country”, then that’s what they’ll do.

      • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 03/27/2017 - 11:40 am.

        The easy fix

        Would be to reinstate the cuts to the risk corridor support and reinsurance for the riskier pools. This was cut by the republicans- Marco Rubio, specifically- to create the crisis for the fall of 2016. 5-7 B would cure most of the problems.

        But that is not the reason for this bill, it was to cut taxes for people making more than $1m and hedge fund traders who pay long term capital gains on day trading.
        THAT was the real reason for the bill.

  6. Submitted by Roy Everson on 03/27/2017 - 10:45 am.

    What’s H.C. Andersen got to say?

    The suggestion aired a couple months back was the need for a White House psychiatrist. We the public may not learn what is wrong, but there might be an easier path for the 25th Amendment to be enforced, that which authorizes the Cabinet to depose a mentally incompetent prez. In the meantime another letter may be mulled:

    “Dear Trump apologists,

    What exactly, or even approximately, is wrong with you?”

    The end of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” provides an ominous warning: “He isn’t wearing anything! shouted all the crowd at last. The Emperor trembled inside, for he felt himself that they may be right, but, he thought — I must go on and finish the procession. And so he held himself even more straight and proud, and the chamberlains walked along carrying the train which wasn’t even there.”

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/27/2017 - 10:46 am.

    A deal

    Trump’s initial reaction had a Pavlovian quality. Viewers of Fox News have been trained for over a couple of decades now to blame Democrats for anything that goes wrong. When the bell rings, they have no choice but to salivate. What I thought was interesting was how quickly Mr. Trump backed off from the Democrats are to blame meme. Had sanity suddently reappeared in the White House?

    I like to believe that deals with Democrats are possible. There are certainly things we want from Mr. Trump and the party that controls the Congress and which will soon control the Supreme Court. If Donald Trump was truly the bold unpartisan risk taker that he portrayed himself as during the campaign, there would be interesting opportunities now. But he isn’t and there aren’t. And besides that, there is a deeper problem in negotiating with Donald Trump.

    I haven’t read “The Art of the Deal” and so I don’t know if the discusses this, but one important rule in any decision to negotiate is that you only negotiate with parties who have the power to make a deal. Violation of this rule means that any concession made by one party are made without getting anything in return, and in fact become merely the starting point for any real negotiation later on. The fact, and everyone knows this, is that Donald Trump doesn’t have the power to make a deal, because he can’t deliver the Republican support in Congress needed for any deal to be completed. Now that isn’t a permanent condition; it could change. But until it does, any prospect of a deal with Democrats, as much as Democrats would like one, is simply an impossibility.

  8. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/27/2017 - 11:28 am.

    The thing that should have been pointed out more emphatically is the vast gulf between the campaign statements that Trump made with respect to health-care/insurance and the proposed bill that vacillated between “do a lot less” and “do even more lot less”.

    And Trump was all-in on those proposals, and in search of a “deal” was willing to trade away virtually anything.

    That’s the problem with a “deal-maker” that does not have anything to personally gain or lose in the end result and does not have the compassion or wisdom to see the end result of the proposal for the people affected by the changes.

    Any chip that can be traded away will be traded away, because it has no value to him.

  9. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 03/27/2017 - 11:32 am.

    Republican sabotage

    I read recently an explanation for why in 2016 all of the insurance companies pulled out of the exchanges and premiums went up. The reason was that the Republican party had sabotaged a mechanism for subsidizing insurers for shortfalls in subscribers and subscriber fees during the first years of the program. Fla. Sen. Marco Rubio boasted about having wiped out a “bailout fund” for insurers during the Presidential campaign last year which lead Politifact to call Rubio’s label of the funding as a “bailout” false. But Politifact did not dispute that the Republicans had removed this funding which in the event turned out to be critical to maintaining premiums and insurer involvement in the exchanges.

    The ACA is a complex piece of legislation. But even complex legislation should be capable of being explained to even 12 year olds for them to understand. Trump and the Republicans have excelled in doing this, aided in large part by news organizations and radio stations that propagate their message to what they want people to believe, regardless of the facts. One way for the Dems. to reclaim territory is to start letting people know how much the R’s are to blame for the mess under the ACA. There’s no reason Trump can’t be made the new owner of Obamacare even as his own bill lies in ruin at his feet.

  10. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 03/27/2017 - 12:57 pm.

    Artless deals…

    The Strib had a great piece in October on Trump’s wily negotiation to buy what soon became the bankrupt Trump shuttle for 180% more than it was worth simply because he wanted it BAD…

    He can blame Schumer and Pelosi now; but, watch for them to take full advantage of his “deal desperation” when he realizes his Balkanized GOP comrades can pass nothing on their own.

  11. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 03/27/2017 - 07:14 pm.

    What gives me the shivers

    is how close the United States came to having a “health care bill” that removed even the most basic of health care coverage we expect.

    Trump was, on Thursday, hell-bent on giving the Freedom Caucus this, that, and the other of their stunningly outrageous demands to remove insurance coverage in the former ACA for things like having a baby, needing to be in the Emergency Room for help–especially if you needed mental health crisis attention, having a doctor visit to check your general health. He was willing to cut from the bill most of what made it a health care act at all, and he was caving like a sand castle as the tide comes in.

    Luckily, the Freedom Caucus thought Trump was in their hands, a regular chump Trump, and they kept on asking for more until he angrily quit “negotiating” for a “win.” Any win. Not that he really understood, or cared, what he was doing. He does not bother with policy detail.

    Trump’s famous short attention span came into play, and saved the nation! He angrily insisted that Ryan call a vote so he (Trump) could know precisely who to target for his revenge/punishment acts, but Ryan refused to put the bill up for a vote. Wow. Close shave.

  12. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/28/2017 - 07:32 am.


    I am extremely disappointed in how Republicans handled (or, more precisely, mishandled) the possible health care replacement and it is clearly no one’s fault but theirs (of course, I can say that passing a bad law is worse than not passing any law, an idea that Democrats didn’t give any consideration to seven years ago when they passed a bad law which was destined to fail and which passed because many Democrats didn’t read it and American people were misled, so it is nice to see at least some attempts in critical thinking among our elected representatives).

    But I am also disappointed in this Mr. Black’s piece and I have two reasons for that. First, I can just imagine what Democrats would say about a piece written in an equally mocking tone about Obama. Anyone accusing Obama of lying, being stupid and illogical, or hinting at his mental illness would have (and was) immediately accused of racism and extremism. No matter what, Trump is the President of the United States of America and that position deserves at least some respect. And second, I can’t imagine that people have forgotten how just until a few months ago everything was George W. Bush’s fault, even after eight years of Obama. And everything, according to Democrats, is always Republicans’ fault, now and back to at least WWII if not WWI. How is it even possible? But Trump really is Democrats’ fault, at least in a big part, because they kept moving to the left leaving the center (and regular Americans) behind even though the center itself has moved to the left. And, by moving to the left, they pushed many people to the right… and didn’t even want to pay attention to election results every two years… But that is another story.

    • Submitted by Misty Martin on 03/28/2017 - 01:21 pm.

      I believe Mr. Black has shown President Trump respect inasmuch

      As one can show respect to someone who holds the most important office in our country – I also believe showing respect for others is a good way to gain respect for oneself too (no matter WHO you are) and it’s hard to have respect for ANYONE who belittles women; the handicapped; those who are culturally different and basically anyone who dares to disagree with any decision or idea that he generates, as all of the President’s “tweets” seem to signify.

      Once again, I believe that Eric Black is a dedicated, “informed”, highly skilled journalist who reports the facts to a public who need to hear them. Education is power.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/29/2017 - 07:35 am.

        I agree

        I also believe that Mr. Black is a good journalist and that is why I was disappointed (I would expect this kind of things from Krugman of NYT or Milbank of WaPo and would not be disappointed). I just think that in writing about Trump in general, and in this piece in particular, he has been deviating from high journalistic standards that he has always maintained. A Republican congressman was trashed for calling Obama a liar and yet everyone is trying to compete for the best (worst?) insult for Trump? Now, I may be missing something but how did Trump belittle women and “those who are culturally different?” Words are cheap and action is what counts… Let alone the way Mr. Clinton dealt with women which didn’t prevent him from being admired by most Democrats including women. On the other hand, I do agree with you that “showing respect for others is a good way to gain respect for oneself.” Can Democrats start showing us some example?

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 03/28/2017 - 04:24 pm.

      Alternative Fact Of The Year nominee

      “Trump really is Democrats’ fault”

      Wow . . .

      When viewed from the perspective of, “How amazing is it that anyone could even come UP with a thought like that?” I’d have to give it an A+ (for “More than Amazing!”)

      Unfortunately, from all other perspectives, I’m afraid I could only give it a W (as in “Wow”)

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/29/2017 - 07:36 am.

        It is

        Democrats were steadily losing Americans (judging by election results over the course of six years) and yet they kept moving to the left, away from where the country apparently wanted to go. Additionally, they insulted and offended all those Americans who disagreed with them by calling them names and questioning their intelligence. So those Americans revolted as Sen. Sanders suggested (he wanted a revolution) and chose someone who promised to listen to them. And here is a small detail: Democrats wanted Trump to become Republican nominee because they thought that he would be easy to defeat. And many Republicans didn’t want Trump… So who made Trump possible?

    • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 03/28/2017 - 04:52 pm.

      It’s just the beginning of the end

      Of Trump and republicans. Review the US history from WWI forward – you are way off base

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/29/2017 - 07:38 am.

        The end of Republicans has been announced many times before… But will you please clarify where I am off base?

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 03/28/2017 - 08:22 pm.


      Do you have precognition? “destined to fail”
      “Bad law” some explanation would be helpful, there are always winners and losers. Example: Cleaner air = Consumers win, big polluters lose. = Bad law?
      Obama ≠ Trump, seems like an attempt to create false equivalents, other than holding the same office.
      Would be nice to know what center looks like to some folks? Great article for Mr. Black!

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/30/2017 - 07:51 am.


        Obamacare was passed without full reading and at least some agreement from the other side AND it was passed because of the “stupidity of American people.” That alone makes it destined to fail. But even economically, it could not succeed because it falsely assumed that there would be many young people willing to enroll… Let alone the fact that high deductibles make this insurance useless for many people since they can’t afford those deductibles.

        Cleaner air = everyone wins (we all have to breath, even the big polluters) and everyone loses (polluters will raise the prices for their goods to pay for cleaner air). Bad law? I don’t know – the devil is in details. If it makes air significantly cleaner for relatively low price, it may be called good. If it makes already clean air just a little bit cleaner with no health benefits but for a lot of money (diminishing return), it is most likely bad.

        Yes, that was my point, Obama and Trump held the same office and it is the office that we should respect. On the other hand, Democrats defended and supported Obama no matter what… which Republicans don’t do.

        Center is where most Americans are. Based on all election results, it is not where Democrats are.

        • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 03/30/2017 - 02:22 pm.

          Obamacare was passed without full reading and at least some agreement from the other side AND it was passed because of the “stupidity of American people.”

          One of the stranger things I read often is that legislation is improved when people read it. I have never read “Remembrance of the Things Past”, but I am pretty sure if I did the novel wouldn’t get better. As it happens, I think I can say with a pretty high degree of confidence that few if any Republicans read President Trump’s repeal and replace bill, which was kept under lock and key for most of it’s brief lifespan and unlike Obamacare was never brought to a vote. Such is the richness of Trump era hypocrisy.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/31/2017 - 07:31 am.

            I didn’t mean people; I meant all Democratic Senators and Representatives (was it Pelosi who said “let’s pass the bill and learn how it works later?) But it would help if people read it, too; then they would not be so easily fooled…

            • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 04/03/2017 - 11:27 am.


              Pelosi’s quote has been chopped up and taken by partisans to mean something that it doesn’t mean. The quote was made in Pelosi’s speech to the National Association of Counties. Here it is in its broader context — which makes clear not that she’s speaking to folks in Congress, but rather about the fact that the media coverage of the bill was focused on the controversy, not the contents:

              “The final health care legislation that will soon be passed by Congress will deliver successful reform at the local level. It will offer paid for investments that will improve health care services and coverage for millions more Americans. It will make significant investments in innovation, prevention, wellness and offer robust support for public health infrastructure. It will dramatically expand investments into community health centers. That means a dramatic expansion in the number of patients community health centers can see and ultimately healthier communities. Our bill will significantly reduce uncompensated care for hospitals.

              “You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention — it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.

              “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 03/28/2017 - 11:14 pm.

      How is it even possible?

      Easy, conservatism was, is, and will continue to be diametrically opposed as an ideology to anything which aids the vast majority of humanity. It persists due to its sounding wonderful and logical on paper, despite being everything but, in practice. Fortunately for its adherents, society has a short intstitutional memory, and as such, needs to periodcally reminded of the self- inflicted follies of its past. Were that not the case, conservatism would have ended with Hoover, at the very latest, and very nearly did.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 03/30/2017 - 07:52 am.


        I would say that an ideology opposite to conservatism is communism and socialism which always claimed to want to help all humanity… Did they? Was socialism progressive in the beginning of the 20th century? Communists thought so and they probably were because they wanted to move forward and make things better (a definition of progress) while conservatives wanted to stay where they were… What was better for all humanity? The funny part is that communism and socialism persist due to their “sounding wonderful and logical on paper, despite being everything but, in practice.” And people do have a short memory and also like to ignore reality (in Venezuela, for example)… On the other hand, there has never been a country based on conservatism but many based on socialism…

  13. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 03/28/2017 - 07:37 am.

    Try Colbert also

    You’ll avoid the salty language. And you’ll find a great montage of Trump saying “I never promised repeal & replace in the first 64 days”….followed by a half dozen campaign clips where he claimed he’d do it “immediately” or “on Day 1”. So, as Colbert notes, Trump actually failed 2 months ago, not last week.

    • Submitted by Jack Lint on 03/28/2017 - 02:46 pm.

      Also simultaneous repeal and replace with Price’s confirmation

      Colbert didn’t include Trump’s promise that as soon as Tom Price was confirmed, then there would be a simultaneous repeal and replace. He did hedge a bit and say it might be the next day. Price was confirmed on February 10th, so you could say he failed about a month ago.

  14. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/28/2017 - 10:19 am.

    Good points made

    …by virtually all previous commenters.

    Mr. Trump envisions himself as an elected monarch – hence the triple residences (White House, Mar-A-Lago, Manhattan), the “L’estat, le moi” (“I am the state” or more crudely, “I’m the President and you’re not”) attitude, the multiplicity of golf vacations, the continued holding of what appear very much like campaign rallies, months after the election, to boost his fragile ego, etc. He’s not only used to getting his own way, in the manner of a 70-year-old spoiled child, but in the process, as many people have noted, his ability to think in terms of the effects of his actions on other fellow citizens is, shall we say, minimal.

    More and more, I think of Mr. Trump as an unwitting, though sometimes complicit, puppet. Those raised in wealth and privilege generally don’t have a clue about the lives of more ordinary folk. There have been exceptions to that crude rule of thumb, but Trump doesn’t appear to be among them. As one of my nieces said on Facebook, “Speeches, smeeches. Watch the policy.” While most of us have looked on, appalled, at the bright, shiny object of Donald Trump, right-wing Republicans in Congress and their sycophants on the White House staff, have been busily working to dismantle most of the roles of the federal government, including that of protecting a vulnerable public from rapacious multinational corporations as well as their equally-greedy by smaller domestic companies. Mr. Trump is the antithesis of a policy wonk, which means the right-wing policy wonks on the White House and Congressional staffs will be able to spin policy proposals so that they’re acceptable to an unwitting President who isn’t quite as smart as he thinks he is, and in the process do considerable harm to the society and individual citizens.

  15. Submitted by Tim Kaiser on 03/28/2017 - 10:57 am.

    ACA fix is “easy.”

    The multiple false narratives about the ACA has perhaps made us forget that when the original bill was being negotiated 8 years ago, there was a public option. A state could bypass the for-profit market entirely and go with a single payer option (which would have been the state with federal support). Since we are obviously an unworthy people who can’t have nice things, that item was taken off the table. The easiest fix to the ACA would be putting the public option back in.

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