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Mar 27, 2017
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

President Donald Trump will try to regain some momentum this week after he and his fellow Republicans failed in their bid to repeal and replace Obamacare. Trump is expected to sign an executive order tomorrow aimed at reversing another piece of his predecessor's legacy. That would be President Obama's climate policy. But Trump is also still doing some finger-pointing about who is to blame for last week's health care debacle. And let's talk about this with NPR's Scott Horsley. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, David.

GREENE: So the president went on Twitter over the weekend, took aim at conservatives in his party, blaming them for, you know, torpedoing the Republican replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. Is this just deflecting blame and damage control from this White House right now?

HORSLEY: Well, right, Trump tweeted on Sunday that the conservative House Freedom Caucus and outside groups like Heritage Action had delivered a victory for Democrats by allowing Obamacare to remain in place. And then on Saturday, he said people should tune in to a Fox News program featuring Jeanine Pirro. Hours later, Pirro used her program to call for Speaker Ryan to step down. So does Trump think the speaker is at fault here? His chief of staff, Reince Priebus, tried to argue to Chris Wallace on Fox News over the weekend, this is just a simple misunderstanding.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOX NEWS BROADCAST)

REINCE PRIEBUS: He loves Judge Jeanine and he want to do Judge Jeanine a favor.

CHRIS WALLACE: So does he want Paul Ryan to step down or...

PRIEBUS: No, he doesn't. And he's talked to Paul Ryan yesterday for about an hour. He believes what he said in the Oval Office on Friday. He doesn't blame Paul Ryan. In fact, he thought Paul Ryan worked really hard. He enjoys his relationship with Paul Ryan, thinks that Paul Ryan's a great speaker of the House.

HORSLEY: Now, it's certainly true that Paul Ryan is the architect of the bill that failed last week. In fact, he joked he'd been dreaming about a bill like this since he was drinking from kegs, which, David, I think means Paul Ryan went to a different sort of keg party.

GREENE: (Laughing) No comment.

HORSLEY: (Laughter) Trump, on the other hand, never offered a plan of his own. He didn't have anything more specific than something great that was supposed to cover everyone. And then he hitched himself to a bill that didn't remotely cover everyone and couldn't even muster the votes to pass his own party.

GREENE: Well, so the president says he's now moving health care to the back burner. He's just going to move on to other things like tax reform. But he also says that he might try again after what he is predicting will be this explosion of Obamacare. What does that mean?

HORSLEY: Yeah, Republicans have been saying throughout this process that the Affordable Care Act is collapsing. But now we've got Paul Ryan himself saying we're going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. So the question becomes does the administration try to prop it up or tear it down. The house - the White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney, was on NBC's "Meet The Press" yesterday. He suggested the administration is content to let Obamacare wither.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

MICK MULVANEY: It's going to break. And I think that's the one thing that folks have not started talking about yet. So frustrating to me, as we did really try to help folks back home, is that the end result here is that people back home are going to be hurt. Now, the Democrats will get blamed for it because there's no question now. It's not Trumpcare in this country. It's not Ryancare. It is Obamacare. They will get blamed.

HORSLEY: Now, there are certainly ways the administration can sabotage the individual insurance markets in Obamacare. If they do so, they may - it may not be the Democrats who get the blame because remember, the Congressional Budget Office has said Obamacare's markets are likely to remain stable in most parts of the country. As for the Medicaid expansion, that survives for now. And you even got red states like Kansas that are considering expansion of their own.

GREENE: OK. That is NPR's Scott Horsley joining us this morning to talk about President Trump as he tries to regain some momentum this week. Scott, thanks a lot.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.