Last week, before a White House meeting with Senate Republicans, Donald Trump said for the cameras that the chamber’s health care plan will be “generous, kind, with heart.” The presidential message came with subtext: Trump apparently believes the House GOP version, which he touted vigorously, wasn’t generous or kind, and obviously lacked heart.
Remember, this was in reference to legislation Trump has championed and said he’s eager to sign.
CNBC reported that Trump had a meeting with business leaders yesterday and reportedly raised similar concerns about the Senate bill.
The source said the president told the CEOs on Monday that the Senate’s health-care bill needs “more heart.” That would be a second known instance of the president criticizing the GOP plan in private meetings.
Soon after, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the behind-the-scenes quote, and the president’s spokesperson made little effort to deny the report, saying Trump “clearly wants a bill that has heart in it.”
Spicer added, “And as the Senate works its way through this bill … any ideas are welcome to strengthen it, to make it more affordable, more accessible, and deliver the care that it needs.”
Unless those ideas come from Senate Democrats, of course, in which case the 13 Republican men writing the secret legislation behind closed doors aren’t interested.
The White House, at least publicly, has offered no indications of what, specifically, the legislation should have to meet Trump’s standard for having “heart.”
And that’s partly a consequence of how the president is approaching this process. As we talked about last week, Trump has no meaningful understanding of health care policy or what he’d like the legislation to include. What he wants is a political victory and a bill that will generate some positive headlines.
In context, “more heart” effectively means “more popular” and “more likely to get Trump’s approval rating out of the 30s.”