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Matt Schlapp: Passing a ‘Republican Version of Obamacare’ Won’t Cut It

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union which runs the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), said the GOP’s healthcare reform plan should be as “free market” as possible and not a “Republican version of Obamacare.”

“I want taxes to be as low as they can be. I want healthcare as free market as it came be. Now, that’s easy to say and it’s harder to write in legislative language, but as long as those are the guiding principles, I’m OK with what the process puts out. I’ll be for what the process puts out, but if we pass a Republican version of Obamacare that isn’t that much freer, we won’t accomplish any of the goals and we won’t satisfy the concerns out in the country,” Schlapp told PJM during an interview at CPAC.

“Remember, it’s the American people that don’t like Obamacare. It’s not just Republicans. It’s like it’s never been popular because they haven’t seen the benefit on healthcare prices in their own lives. And on taxes, if it doesn’t get the economy moving, it will be tough for President Trump politically. If this economy doesn’t get rolling, he’s in trouble,” he added.

Schlapp, who served as former President George W. Bush’s political director, emphasized that the ACU’s job is not to be a “cheerleader” for Trump, who spoke at the conference on Friday.

“We have loved the last 30 days but we hope to work really closely with him. Our job is not to be his cheerleader. Our job is to stand up for our mission, and when he does the right things we’ll be right there fighting with him,” he said.

Schlapp responded to the conservative activists attending the conference who are still skeptical of Trump.

“What I’ve seen with American politics is there’s a good healthy skepticism with most people. I think that’s a positive thing, but I would agree with you that conservatives have felt like they’ve taken the bait before and they feel like sometimes the people they elect don’t fight hard enough for the values they care about,” Schlapp said.

“One thing about Donald Trump, what he’s showing conservatives is that he doesn’t seem to care that much if something is controversial. If he feels that it’s something that he said he’s going to do, he’s a bulldog about getting it done. Now, that’s a tough thing from a PR/comms perspective, but from a political perspective these people respect him for it,” he added.

Schlapp was asked how rescinding Milo Yiannopoulos’ invitation to speak at CPAC is any different than UC Berkeley canceling his appearance because of protests.

“An invitation is not an endorsement. We were OK with provocative and we were OK with the controversial elements of a given speaker. We were not OK when it was bought to my attention that he was endorsing criminal behavior. Now that came out well after Berkeley and all these other sites,” Schlapp said.

“He was shut down on those campuses because often voices on the right are shut out – even voices that I don’t agree with everything they say, I think it’s a big mistake, especially for universities that have a special charter for academic freedom and free speech and being able to air their views, I think it’s a big mistake for them to shut down voices on the right,” he added.