The leader Kellyanne Conway sees as 'the health care president'

If Kellyanne Conway wants to have a conversation about who's earned "the health care president" label, she may not like where the discussion ends up.
Image: Kellyanne Conway
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway talks to reporters in the briefing room of the White House on Feb. 5, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP
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By Steve Benen

The White House's Kellyanne Conway appeared on Fox News yesterday morning, and used a specific phrase over and over again. "What we're trying to do is show that this health care president is the one that is governing," Conway said, adding that "this health care president" believes in transparency" and "the health care president continues to deliver for America."

Subtle, it was not.

It's likely that Conway, who had a background in political polling before joining Team Trump as his third campaign manager in 2016, has seen some of the internal data and concluded that the president is in real trouble when it comes to public attitudes on health care. It's also likely that she keeps calling Trump "the health care president" in the hopes that the public will take the spin seriously.

But given the circumstances, it's an awfully tough sell. Trump is, after all, championing a lawsuit that would strip tens of millions of Americans of their health security, even during a pandemic. This is the same president who also championed far-right legislation in 2017 that would've devastated millions of families.

As Vox's Matt Yglesias explained a while back:

He has followed that up by pushing a variety of Medicaid waiver schemes to allow GOP-held states to restrict low-income families' access to health care. His administration is particularly enthusiastic about work requirements that reduce coverage while doing nothing to encourage work.... The result of all this is that the uninsured rate in America is actually rising.

Let's not overlook Trump's efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, which have also caused adverse effects.

All of this, of course, was true long before the coronavirus crisis began.

The Washington Post's Catherine Rampell added in early February, after Vice President Mike Pence endorsed a series of regressive changes to Medicaid, "Is the problem incompetence or malice? When it comes to the Trump administration's terrible health-care agenda, the answer appears to be both."

If Kellyanne Conway wants to have a conversation about who's earned "the health care president" label, the White House may not like where the discussion ends up.