"Oh, I know that": President Trump shrugs off the devastating impact repealing Obamacare will have on his base

Trump admits to Fox News' Tucker Carlson that "a lot of things aren't consistent" with his campaign promises

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published March 16, 2017 6:21PM (EDT)

In the face of a barrage of scrutiny from what he has deemed the "fake news," President Donald Trump on Wednesday night turned to Fox News' Tucker Carlson for refuge and attempted to repair some self-inflicted political wounds in the battle over health care reform.

Far from giving the president a chance to knock softball questions out of the park, however, the Fox News host confronted Trump about inconsistencies between his campaign pledges and the House Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare recently endorsed by the White House. In a stunning admission, Trump appeared to openly acknowledge that he knows the proposed legislation, dubbed by some as Trumpcare, would devastate his voters and actually do the exact opposite of what he promised voters during the campaign.

"This bill has as one of its centerpieces a tax cut for investors that would primarily benefit people making over $250,000 a year," Carson said. "They’ve already done pretty well in the past 10 years, as you know," he said to Trump, adding a "Bloomberg analysis showed that counties that voted for you — middle-class and working-class counties — would do far less well under this bill."

"Oh, I know," Trump said matter-of-factly. "I know. It’s very preliminary."

The Bloomberg analysis Carlson referenced found that taxpayers in counties that voted for Hillary Clinton in the election would receive a disproportionate share of the tax cut compared with those in counties that voted for Trump. According to Bloomberg, there are hundreds of counties with people that voted for Trump in which not a single person would benefit from Trumpcare's massive tax cut.

Carlson asked Trump about this.

“Maybe this isn’t consistent with the message of the last election,” Carlson said, alluding to Trump's frequent campaign promises to implement a "terrific" replacement to Obamacare. The president revived his over-the-top campaign rhetoric at a political rally in Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday night, saying his health care bill “will get rid of Obamacare and make health care better for you and for your family.”

But responding to Carlson's critique about the apparent contradiction between his rhetoric and his proposed legislation, Trump simply responded, “a lot of things aren't consistent." He went on to say, "These are going to be negotiated. We've got to go to the Senate;we'll see what happens in the Senate.”

Trump described himself to Carlson as “an arbitrator” who is open to “negotiation." He explained, “We have the conservatives; we have the more liberal side of the Republican Party; we have the left. We have the right within the Republicans themselves; we got a lot of fighting going on.”

But Trump made no mention of the impact that the Republican plan could potentially have on the millions of Americans who depend on the insurance they can access through Obamacare exchanges or the expanded coverage of Medicaid. The president did not even attempt to defend the outcome his legislation could potentially have on his own base of supporters. In fact, he didn't say anything more to address the actual substance of the legislation.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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