President Donald Trump's recent penchant for bipartisanship on taxes and healthcare has been as shocking as it is confusing. On one hand, he wants Democrats to come on board to work out a deal and complains that they won't. But a tweet of his says something different.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced Tuesday that he and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., reached a major deal on health care. It's not the "repeal and replace" Trump or Speaker Paul Ryan originally touted, but it would allow states more flexibility under the Affordable Care Act, which is good for Republicans. In exchange, the deal would provide cost-sharing reduction payments for two years — the same subsidiaries that Trump said he would suspend just days ago.
"In my view, this agreement avoids chaos," Alexander told The New York Times, "and I don't know a Democrat or a Republican who benefits from chaos."
On Wednesday, Alexander boasted that he had Trump's support on the bill, telling Axios' Mike Allen: "Trump completely engineered the plan that we announced yesterday." He also said he had just gotten off the phone with the president, who lent his endorsement.
"He wanted a bipartisan bill for the short term," Alexander added.
Not minutes later, Trump tweeted a different story. "I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co's who have made a fortune w/ O'Care," he tweeted.
I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co's who have made a fortune w/ O'Care.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
But this wasn't the only back-and-forth of Trump's stance on the bill. Earlier comments of his during a news conference in the Rose Garden underscored Alexander's description of Trump's support. "We have been involved, and this is a short-term deal because we think ultimately block grants going to the states is going to be the answer," Trump said. He added, "The solution will be for about a year or two years, and it will get us over this intermediate hump."
Whether Trump supports this "short-term deal" or not, many Republicans remain adamant about drawing a bold line under their continued desire to replace Barack Obama's health care bill by any means. Rep. Mark Walker tweeted yesterday per the Republican Study Committee's account: "The GOP should focus on repealing & replacing Obamacare, not trying to save it. This bailout is unacceptable."
— RSC (@RepublicanStudy) October 17, 2017
While some Democrats see the deal as a victory, "I don't expect the Republicans to give up their goals of repealing A.C.A.," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. told The New York Times. "But in the meantime, stabilizing the system, preventing chaos and stopping the sabotage is in everybody's interest."