White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appeared on Fox News to address the postponement of the Obamacare replacement bill by Republicans, and was pressed heavily by fill-in host Eric Bolling to pin the blame on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.).
"For weeks, we've heard that you had the votes," Bolling said. "Paul Ryan had the votes, he's gonna deliver a bill to the president's desk that he could push through and get behind, and get his name behind. And now we have this postponement for a day. Is the president, is he disappointed with the health care bill that he's been presented?"
"No, not at all," Spicer responded. "In fact, the president has met with several groups today, the House Freedom Caucus today, and yesterday, the vice president and the rest of the team were actively involved. He just got done meeting with the House Tuesday Group, a group of moderates, 16 of the 17 that walked in were either 'maybes' or 'nos'... 16 of 17 walked out 'yeses.' The president continues to make tremendous progress on that."
"But Sean, those aren't the guys that you need," Bollings said, explaining to Spicer the votes he needed to pass the bill. "The ones you need are the Freedom Caucus, and you got, I guess, there are about 30 or so members, you got leeway with 22. You can lose 22 but you can't lose 30."
Spicer agreed and said that it was a "balancing act," which Bolling interrupted to push the blame on Speaker Ryan.
"All right, all right, Sean, so y'know," Bolling said, "and I'm watching this from the other side of the camera here, and I'm watching you guys. You tell me it's gonna happen and we've been hearing it's gonna happen. Is the president uhm, disappointed with the speaker of the House?"
"No, not at all," Spicer denied emphatically and quickly. "Speaker Ryan and Leader [Kevin] McCarthy, Congressman [Steve] Scalise have been tremendous in terms of helping to talk to members, continue to reach out, put aspects in the bill that people had wanted to make it stronger and better. But look, Eric, we could have continued through the night, and voted in the middle of the night. That's what Democrats have done in the past. That's not what we're gonna do. We wanna do this in broad daylight tomorrow."
"All right, if the bill doesn't pass," Bolling again pressed about Ryan. "Should the speaker resign, should Paul Ryan resign?"
"No, that's absolutely not," Spicer again rejected Bolling's insistence. "This has been a great team effort on the Republican behalf, but at the end of the day, I don't think that's gonna be necessary, because I think the president has made a very, very strong case as to why this is everything that we have talked about."
"But if it doesn't pass, Sean," Bolling interrupted, "can the president still have confidence in the speaker to deliver his caucus if it doesn't?"
"Look, Eric, I understand the question," Spicer responded, "but I'm not thinking that way. We put our heart and soul into this bill. The president's been working the phones, and having meetings consistently for the last several days. He's been behind this, from the get-go. He's been working with the speaker, meeting with all sorts of members to get this through and make it the best bill we can."
"No, no, I get that, Sean, I understand," Bolling interrupted again. "But he's a deal-maker, and he's taken this upon himself to get this through. Did he expect to spend this much political capital having to push this thing through? Y'know that's his political capital. Y'know, he's got tax reform coming, he's got some immigration plans coming, and that's all capital that he's gonna have to spend on health care that maybe he didn't think, Paul Ryan told him, he wasn't going to need to spend this early."
Once again, Spicer rejected Bolling's narrative, saying, "No, the president knew this was gonna be tough from the get-go. This is a fifth of our economy, there are a lot of ideas that are percolating."
Spicer promised that they would see the same "level of success" that they saw in the election.
[graphiq id="kadEQ8s5g9v" title="Number of Issuers Participating in Affordable Care Act Public Exchanges" width="600" height="701" url="https://w.graphiq.com/w/kadEQ8s5g9v" ]
Bolling was reflecting a narrative pushed heavily by Trump supporters that the president had been tricked, and even sabotaged by the GOP leadership into supporting a bad bill.
Here's a sampling from social media:
Opponents of the bill had the backing of the Koch brothers, who joined a last-minute campaign funding effort to defeat the bill. Meanwhile, a Freedom Caucus member warned Trump that they were trying to save him from a very unpopular bill that would result in his becoming a one-term president.