Yesterday morning, Donald Trump was so eager to explain the demise of his party’s awful health care gambit, he unveiled a new excuse: one of the Senate Republicans who prepared to vote for the repeal measure was in the hospital.
Hours later on the White House South Lawn, the president elaborated on this point:
TRUMP: I just wanted to say though on health care, we have the votes for health care. We have one senator that’s in the hospital. He can’t vote because he’s in the hospital.
REPORTER: Are you talking about [Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi]?
TRUMP: [Nods] He can’t vote because he’s in the hospital.
A few hours after that, the president was at it yet again, delivering a speech in Indiana on taxes where he declared, in reference to the GOP repeal legislation, “We have the votes on Graham-Cassidy.” [Update: On Fox News this morning, Trump again repeated the bizarre claim.]Even for Trump, this was a little off. First, Thad Cochran is not in the hospital. The Mississippi Republican had a health issue earlier in the week that kept him away from the Capitol, but as Cochran said yesterday, “Thanks for the well-wishes. I’m not hospitalized.”
Second, it doesn’t matter how many times the president says, “We have the votes,” reality is stubborn.
To be sure, if Cochran were not available for a floor fight on health care, Senate Republicans would have had a more difficult time passing an ACA repeal bill, but Trump is refusing to look at the math: there are 52 Republican senators, which means the party could only afford two “no” from within their own ranks. There were, however, three “no” votes and by some counts, four.
Seriously though, this whole thing is stupid. Four “no” votes plus one “yes” vote is still four “no” votes!