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Playing the blame game over health care

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on March 24, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Credit: Olivier Douliery/picture-allianc / Olivier Douliery

President Donald Trump likely can’t avoid his share of the blame for the latest setback on the Republican health care bill, despite his efforts to do so.

Trump, a Republican, was quick to point fingers at others after the Republican-controlled Senate withdrew a bill to replace Obamacare this past Monday, sought a vote on a bill to repeal Obamacare without replacing it — and then had to back off that, too.

He reproached Democrats for not supporting a GOP plan, a couple of conservative Republicans who thought the repeal didn’t go far enough and couple of moderates who thought the potential Medicaid cuts were too severe. Trump said his plan was to “let Obamacare fail,” and, if it does, he said he would not “own it.”

Critics noted his stance was in direct opposition to a past tweet in which Trump said: “Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.”

Beyond saying one thing one day and another the next, Trump is being flogged by some because they say he is not working fully on the legislative effort.

The president didn’t barnstorm for the Senate bill or hold any events to press for it or build grass roots support. He praised a House version of the bill, but later appeared to undermine it by calling it “mean.”

With the bill hanging in the balance, Trump finally met with Republican senators at the White House — but only those who already had committed to support it, not any of the fence-sitters. Critics said he wanted the victory, but not the work.

Nonetheless, there were issues other than Trump.

Several Republicans complained that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved too swiftly and didn’t allow them enough input or time to review the legislation. Democrats said they weren’t included at all and that there were no committee hearings, much less public hearings. Others questioned the strategy of pushing health care ahead of infrastructure and other issues with wider support.

To be sure, the health care battle is far from over. Republicans have promised to renew their push to kill Obamacare. The timing, though, is uncertain after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) disclosed he is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, delaying Republicans’ chances of getting to 51 yes votes.

It might eventually happen, but it won’t be “easy,” as the president once assured while campaigning.

In a sit-down with The New York Times after the bill stalled, Trump noted it took President Barack Obama more than a year before the Affordable Care Act passed. Trump seemed to realize the political difficulties, saying health care “is not an easy crack.”

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