Tucker Carlson’s sit-down with Donald Trump Wednesday night was not exactly a hard-hitting interview, but the Fox News host did speak up at one point for conservative populists who are a bit skeptical of Trump’s embrace of Paul Ryan’s health care plan. Carlson noted that one centerpiece of the American Health Care Act is a huge tax cut for rich investors. At the same time, he added, “a Bloomberg analysis shows that counties that voted for you, middle-class and working-class counties, would do far less well under the bill than counties that voted for Hillary."
Trump’s response: “Oh, I know.”
This literally happened...— William LeGate (@williamlegate) March 16, 2017
Tucker Carlson: "The counties who voted for you will do far worse under your plan"
Donald Trump: "Oh, I know..." pic.twitter.com/tsG96kybxe
The president doesn’t even attempt to defend this outcome on the merits, saying instead, merely, “it’s very preliminary.”
Carlson argues that the proposal doesn’t seem consistent with the message delivered by the outcome of the election. Trump responds, “a lot of things aren't consistent, but these are going to be negotiated. We've got to go to the Senate, we'll see what happens in the Senate.”
The inconsistency, however, is much more severe than Trump seems to realize or than Carlson points out. The health care bill, as written, isn’t just a little bit off from Trump’s campaign promises — it is directionally opposed.
Trump ran and won by promising a replacement plan that would cover everybody and offer lower deductibles and more choice than Affordable Care Act plans. The Republican health bill not only doesn’t deliver on those promises, it moves in the opposition direction on all three planks — covering fewer people and leaving those who continue to have coverage with skimpier plans.
Upon taking office, Trump installed a close Ryan ally as chief of staff, then appointed a Health and Human Services secretary who has never agreed with Trump’s campaign commitments on health care, and then an Office of Management and Budget director who has also never agreed with Trump’s campaign commitments on health care.
Ryan himself, likewise, has never been a proponent of universal coverage or otherwise on board with Trump’s campaign promises. The whole situation is highly unusual — just like a lot of things are unusual about Trump’s political career. And it to an extent raises the question of whether Trump realizes how far the bill he’s backing diverges from what he said he would do.