On health care, Trump undercuts himself with '60 Minutes' video

If Dems had scripted Trump's rhetoric on health care for him, it probably wouldn't have been much different from what he told "60 Minutes."
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump posted video recorded and released by the White House of his interview with CBS News' Lesley Stahl on an upcoming episode of "60 Minutes."Released by the White House

When Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearings got underway, Democrats were not subtle in sticking to a specific strategy: Americans, they said, should fear what Barrett and other Republican-appointed jurists might do to the Affordable Care Act.

In response, GOP senators were incredulous, as if the very idea that the high court might tear down the ACA is ridiculous on its face.

It was against this backdrop that Donald Trump sat down CBS News' Lesley Stahl and stepped all over his party's message on "60 Minutes," explaining how eager he is to see conservative justices tear down his own country's health care system.

"I hope they end it," Trump told 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl, in an interview that the Trump campaign preemptively released over purported concerns that the president's words would be misconstrued. "It'll be so good if they end it."

Right off the bat, this is a politically toxic position, especially for a struggling incumbent. Despite a decade's worth of hysteria, the truth of the matter is that Obamacare's popularity continues to reach new heights -- and the reform law is considerably more popular than the president trying to kill it.

The real-world consequences if Trump gets his wish would be brutal: millions of families would lose their health coverage; protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions would disappear; Medicaid expansion would cease to be; coverage for young adults on their parents' plans would disappear; many seniors would have to pay more for prescription medication; lifetime and annual caps would be re-imposed on families; and on and on.

This is the outcome, according to the incumbent American president, that would be "so good."

But wait, Republicans say, if the ACA is destroyed by the Supreme Court, that would simply open the door to Trump's alternative plan. And where, pray tell, is the president's health care blueprint?

"It's fully developed," Trump told Stahl, adding, "It's going to be announced very soon."

It'd be funny if this weren't a life-or-death issue for millions of families. As regular readers know, the Republican has spent literally years telling Americans he has a terrific health care plan, which will deliver better results at a lower cost, and this reform miracle is nearly ready for its unveiling.

As recently as last month, the president went so far as to boast, in reference to his non-existent health care plan, "I have it all ready. I have it all ready.... I have it all ready." The president used similar rhetoric three months ago, promising Fox News he'd "sign" a "full and complete" health care plan "within two weeks."

Late last month, the president claimed he was unveiling a "plan" to improve health care and to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, but what Trump actually signed were some executive orders that literally didn't do anything.

Now we're supposed to believe this elusive, magical plan is "going to be announced very soon"? C'mon. I realize the president is accustomed to trying to con people, but no one is that gullible.

In the same "60 Minutes" interview, Stahl asked about how he'd protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, and Trump simply could not answer. The Republican said these people would be "totally protected," but pressed for any kind of information on how he'd keep that promise -- I believe the anchor asked four separate times -- the post-policy president had literally nothing to say.

All of this made Trump look ridiculous. Indeed, if Democrats had scripted the president's rhetoric on health care for him, it probably wouldn't have been much different from what he told "60 Minutes."

But what makes this all the more extraordinary is that Trump personally leaked the contents of the interview online. CBS won't air its segment until Sunday, but the president, after days of whining, thought it'd be a good idea to undercut the network and release the video of the interview on his own.

In other words, with 12 days remaining before Election Day, ahead of his final debate of the cycle, Trump thought it'd be a good idea to release a video that makes him look worse on one of the year's most important issues. Brilliant.