Trump to Republican senators: The House health-care bill was "mean"

Was there or was there not a big high-fivin’, back-slappin’ ceremony in the Rose Garden the day that that very “mean” bill passed the House? Did I hallucinate that?

What is he thinking throwing Ryan, Mark Meadows, and the House GOP under the bus when he’s going to need them to pass something later — which will be less to their liking ideologically than the previous bill was?

President Donald Trump told Republican senators Tuesday that the House-passed health care bill is “mean” and urged them to craft a version that is “more generous,” congressional sources said…

His comments also seemed to undercut efforts by Senate conservatives to include restrictions in their chamber’s bill, such as cutting the Medicaid health care program for the poor and limiting the services insurers must cover. Moderate GOP senators have been pushing to ease those efforts…

One source said Trump called the House bill “mean, mean, mean” and said, “We need to be more generous, more kind.” The other source said Trump used a vulgar phrase to describe the House bill and told the senators, “We need to be more generous.”

CNN’s sources — remember, this was a Republicans-only lunch — also heard the M-word:

The reason the bill was “mean” was because the House Freedom Caucus insisted on Medicaid cuts and waivers for states on ObamaCare regs like community rating. And one of the reasons they dug in on that was because the White House kept negotiating with them. Trump could have hulked out on populism at any time during the House process and bellowed at Meadows et al. to leave Medicaid and people with preexisting conditions alone. But he was fine to go along with whatever could pass. The result was a widely unpopular bill that House Republicans will be stuck defending next year no matter what the Senate cooks up. Why did he let moderate House Republicans walk the plank to get something passed if Trump himself thought it was “mean”?

The most you can say strategically in his defense is that the bill was always destined to be overhauled in a compromise between the House and Senate, in which case it didn’t matter much (unless you’re a House Republican in a purple district) what eventually passed the House. Just pass something, punt the ball to McConnell, see what he can come up with, then have a big party huddle in conference committee to hatch a final bill. But that strategy — “pass something, anything” — comes with its own price, notes Jay Cost:

If they eventually get an ObamaCare replacement bill through Congress and Trump signs it, whom do you suppose he’ll blame if/when premiums start spiraling and people begn losing their plans? Good luck with that final bill, congressional Republicans.

He told Senate Republicans during today’s lunch that he wants bigger tax credits for exchange consumers and less pain for lower-income Americans, both fine populist principles but anathema to small-government aficionados like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. Gut-check time for the Senate’s remaining few conservatives: Do they bend to Trump on this or go the Freedom Caucus route of trying to drag the White House to the right, at the risk of further “meanness”?

Here’s Trump last month in the Rose Garden talking about how the House bill has, uh … really brought the party together.