Despite his support for the failed House health-care bill, President Trump knew when to walk away from a “bad deal,” according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
At the daily briefing Monday, Spicer was asked if the president could still work with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which led the opposition to the American Health Care Act.
On Sunday, Trump pinned blame on the Freedom Caucus for the bill’s failure, tweeting: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”
But Spicer said Monday that working with the caucus in the future depends on the legislation, then offered new insight into the president’s thinking about the bill House Speaker Paul Ryan promoted as a repeal of Obamacare.
“The president also recognizes that when there’s not a deal to be made, when to walk away,” Spicer told reporters. “It’s not just about making deals. It’s knowing when to walk away from deals and knowing [that] when there’s a bad deal, that’s the only solution.”
While Trump praised the bill after it was withdrawn Friday, though acknowledging it could be improved, Spicer seemed to suggest passing it would not be consistent with the president’s “vision.”
“I think the president understood that where we were, that while you can get a deal at the time, that sometimes a bad deal is worse than getting a deal,” Spicer said. “And I think he smartly recognized that what was on the table was not going to be keeping with the vision that he had, and so he decided that this was not the time and that a deal was not at hand.”
Asked if repealing Obamacare was dead, Spicer said he believed the failure of President Obama’s signature legislation will bring some Democrats to the negotiating table, and the administration is willing to consider working with them.
“It is an abysmal failure,” he said of Obamacare. “If they [Democrats] want to come back to the table and recognize how we can do it in a more responsible way, we are willing to have that discussion. We have to figure out how we get to 216, 218 that day. That doesn’t mean we need the entire Democratic Caucus, and I think there may be a few of them who are willing to do that. Based on the calls that have come in, I think there might be some room to have a conversation. Let’s see how that evolves.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the end of health care.”
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, in an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” criticized Republicans who opposed the Ryan bill of allowing the “perfect” to be the enemy of the “good.”
Reacting to Priebus, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the bill “wasn’t even good.”
“When no one likes the legislation, you have to do it different,” he said.
Jordan said the Ryan bill would not bring down premiums and had “a host of problems.”
“And frankly, the key promise we made the American people in the 2010, 2014, and 2016 election was we would repeal Obamacare,” he said. “This legislation didn’t do that. And that was the fundamental flaw in this entire process. So let’s get back to work and let’s do what we said we would do.”
He added: “Remember, the lesson here is don’t try to pass a bill that only 17 percent of the country approves of. That’s a problem.”
Priebus told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace the president’s tweet about the Freedom Caucus “is 100 percent correct.”
“At the end of the day, I believe that it’s time for the party to start governing. And I think that’s important,” he said.
More to come …