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President Donald Trump on Wednesday said changes to the US healthcare system were still needed to ensure a “great tax reform” bill.
In an interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump said that tax reform was going to happen “at some point very soon” but that Republicans needed to first repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare, to have the budgetary freedom to pass the tax plan they want.
Additionally, Trump said the death of the American Health Care Act – the aborted House GOP bill to overhaul healthcare – was greatly exaggerated.
“I think we’re doing very well on healthcare,” Trump said. “It’s been very much misreported that we failed with healthcare. We haven’t failed – we’re negotiating and we continue to negotiate and we will save perhaps $900 billion.”
Trump is referring to the Congressional Budget Office report on the AHCA. The CBO estimated that the bill could cut the federal spending by $880 billion over the next 10 years and that the deficit could shrink by $337 billion. After the most recent additions to the AHCA, however, the CBO updated this estimate to say the deficit could shrink by only $151 billion, with spending decreasing by $1.15 billion and revenue falling by $999 billion.
While the AHCA had some tax cuts directly baked in, Republicans had hoped the bill’s proposed spending cuts, largely through Medicaid reductions, would allow for even more tax cuts.
“You know if you look at the kind of numbers we’re talking about, that’s all going back into the taxes and we have to do healthcare first to pick up additional money so that we get great tax reform,” Trump said. “So we’re going to have a phenomenal tax reform, but I have to do healthcare first.”
Trump did acknowledge that passing healthcare legislation was “very, very difficult,” but he said something needed to be done because Obamacare was “failing.” While most healthcare policy experts argue that the Obamacare individual health-insurance exchanges are not failing, they say the Trump administration could still undermine the marketplace.
Trump also on Wednesday would not commit to the deadline for tax reform laid out by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who had said Trump would sign a tax bill by the congressional recess in August.
“I don’t want to put deadlines,” the president said. “Healthcare is going to happen at some point. Now, if it doesn’t happen fast enough, I’ll start the taxes. But, the tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do healthcare first.”
While there has been little clarity so far on tax reform, the other major part of Trump’s economic agenda – a promised $1 trillion in infrastructure investment – remains murky as well. The president said that to get a second bill on healthcare passed, which would require 60 votes to avoid a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, he may include an infrastructure package.
“I see it, perhaps, as part of the healthcare plan,” Trump said. “Because phase two of the healthcare plan in order to get the votes, I need 60% for that, and if I put that in, the Democrats are actually gong to love the infrastructure plan.”
Watch Trump’s comments here via Fox Business: