President-elect Donald Trump jabbed at Democrats and “head clown” Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, in a series of tweets about Obamacare on Thursday.
Trump’s sharp rebuke marks a reversal of sorts on Schumer, who earlier in the week found himself answering questions about a New York Post report that Trump had told the New York Democrat that he liked him better than the GOP leaders in Congress.
In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, Schumer effectively confirmed the report, saying that “when you get to be in my position, people do tend to want to flatter you and you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt.”
Still, despite the signs of an early rapprochement, the relationship between the New York pols soured throughout the week as Republicans plunged headlong into the contentious process of repealing Obamacare and unveiled legislation Wednesday to that effect.
Schumer slammed the Trump-led Republicans in a Wednesday news conference for pressing forward with the repeal. Flanked by a sign that said “Make America Sick Again,” Schumer lit into Republicans for lacking a viable replacement healthcare plan.
“Our Republican colleagues don’t quite know what to do, they’re like the dog who caught the bus. They can repeal, but they have nothing to put in its place,” Schumer said Wednesday.
“Republicans are plotting, and soon will be executing, a full-scale assault on the three pillars that support the American health care system. The Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid. The Republican plan to cut health care wouldn’t make America great again, it would make America sick again and lead to chaos instead of affordable care.”
The fiery rhetoric from Trump and Schumer runs counter to hopes that the two leaders would have a more productive relationship than cross-party partnerships in recent years. Both have well-established reputations as dealmakers, and had signaled a willingness to look for areas of collaboration.
Congressional Republicans have forwarded multiple proposals outlining ideas for replacing the Affordable Care Act, but the party has yet to coalesce around a sufficiently comprehensive plan, and a number of high-ranking GOP-ers have signaled their concern about moving forward without a viable alternative and causing chaos in health insurance markets.
Trump himself has only put forward a broad outline of a plan on his campaign website, and during the campaign he emphasized removing market barriers that prevent the sale of insurance across state lines.
In an interview on “New Day” on CNN Thursday, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine sounded a more conciliatory tone, urging Democrats and Republicans to work together to improve Obamacare instead of executing a total repeal.
“Look, can this law be improved? Can the health care system be improved? Sure it can, and we ought to be working together to do that,” Kaine said.
“But if they force through a partisan repeal vote and rush into a repeal that strips health insurance away from 30 million Americans and then say, oh, now that we have repealed it, please help us fix the mess that we made — (President Obama) said don’t bail them out of their own problem. The time to work to make improvements is right now, before a repeal vote,” Kaine added.
Democrats also risk further spoiling the well with a Thursday news conference aimed at scrutinizing Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Republican Congressman Tom Price.