About three weeks ago, after the House Republicans' health care bill collapsed in the face of intra-party opposition, Donald Trump delivered some brief remarks from the Oval Office, expressing his disappointment about the outcome, blaming Democrats, and looking ahead.While the president said policymakers will "end up with a truly great health care bill in the future," Trump added he'd shift his attention to a different issue. "We'll probably be going right now for tax reform, which we could have done earlier, but this really would have worked out better if we could have had some Democrat [sic] support," he said, adding, "So now we're going to go for tax reform which I've always liked."Two days later, on NBC's "Meet the Press," Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, sounded a similar note. "We've moved on to other things," Mulvaney said. "The president has other things he wants to accomplish."Three weeks later, Trump apparently no longer intends to move on.
During an exclusive interview on FOX Business, President Donald Trump said he wants to tackle health care before tax reform."I have to do health care first, I want to do it first to really do it right," Trump told Maria Bartiromo.
The president's phrasing was clumsy, but he seems to have some basic understanding of the broader dynamic. "[W]e're going to have great health care, and all of that savings goes into the tax," Trump told Fox Business. "If you don't do that you can't put any of the savings into the tax cuts and the tax reform."That's more or less accurate. One of the reasons House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) prioritized health care over tax reform is that he saw the former as helping lay the groundwork for the latter. By crafting a far-right bill, Republicans could save billions, which in turn could be applied to tax cuts in a separate, conservative tax reform package.Perhaps, when Trump and his White House team said they were "moving on" from health care, they forgot about this nagging detail.Either way, whether the president realizes this or not, the same problems that derailed his health care bill last month haven't gone away -- and almost certainly won't go away. If Trump is committed to doing "health care first," then he should be prepared to watch his entire agenda gather dust.