Ahead of the impending Senate debate over a new health care bill, President Trump spoke about the state of health care on Monday. Flanked by families who say Obamacare has been a "nightmare" for them, Trump decried the former president's signature legislation and promoted his replacement plan, which he urged Senate Republicans to vote into law.
"For the past 17 years, Obamacare has wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent, hard-working Americans," Trump said.
The problem is that Obamacare has been in place for seven years, not 17. And people were quick to call out Trump for the error, which came right at the start of his speech. On Twitter, he was labeled as "fake news," and compared to Anchorman's Ron Burgundy, a news anchor who would read anything that was written on the teleprompter.
It was not a good start to Trump's speech, which aimed to draw attention to the debate that is on course to begin in the Senate on Tuesday over the passage of a new health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. Trump's speech on Monday was widely regarded as a means to put pressure on Senate Republicans to achieve progress on repealing and replacing Obamacare, a top-priority issue for the GOP which has stalled in the Senate for months.
The moment when Pence realized that Trump screwed up and said Obamacare had been around for 17 years. pic.twitter.com/izdlCRhTL1— Andrew Jerell Jones (@sluggahjells) July 24, 2017
Following his claim that Obamacare has "wreaked havoc" on Americans since 2000 — only three years into President Obama's fledgling political career, when he was still serving in the Illinois State Senate — Trump went on to say that "every pledge that Washington Democrats made to pass that bill turned out to be a lie; it was a big, fat, ugly lie."
And the families that surrounded him were invited to illustrate those "lies." They each had stories of how Obamacare negatively affected them, whether through costly premiums, a lack of coverage in their area, or trouble getting preexisting conditions covered. Stories like these have become commonplace to advance health care agenda on both sides of the aisle, and Trump used these family's stories to illustrate why, he says, Obamacare needs to be replaced by new health care legislation.
"For the past 17 years, Obamacare has..." - Trump, misreading the teleprompter right out of the gate pic.twitter.com/pZdVNe0qgE— Matt Novak (@paleofuture) July 24, 2017
When introducing Trump, Vice President Mike Pence said that "thanks to President Trump's leadership, help is on the way" for those who would support repealing Obamacare. But Trump's leadership has been criticized as lacking in this issue, especially amid reports last week that while the Senate bill was collapsing, Trump was "playing with a fire truck" as part of the White House's "Made in America" week, and "had no clue" the bill was dying, according to CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
Top Republican: "[Trump] was playing with a firetruck & trying on a cowboy hat as the bill was collapsing, and he had no clue" (@jeffzeleny)— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) July 18, 2017
And now, Trump has put the pressure on GOP Republicans to pass a heath care bill, the contents of which are unknown to the Senate itself. The Senate is set to vote on Tuesday to move ahead with the debate on the health care bill, but a final version of what would be voted on reportedly does not yet exist.
While Trump's date blunder was certainly a laughable error, his leadership behind this health care debacle is hardly as humorous.