Jonathan Chait, a writer for New York magazine and Obama apologist, claimed in his latest piece on Monday that Trump has been been “lying about health care” since he first ran for president, and then accused Trump of “now saying that he actually created the protection for preexisting conditions and that Democrats are trying to take it away.”
Chait’s evidence for this is a Trump tweet where he states, “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now, while at the same time winning the fight to rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate.” Trump added, ” I will always protect your Pre-Existing Conditions, the Dems will not!”
….and, if Republicans win in court and take back the House of Represenatives, your healthcare, that I have now brought to the best place in many years, will become the best ever, by far. I will always protect your Pre-Existing Conditions, the Dems will not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2020
Not anywhere did Trump “take credit for Obamacare” or claim to have “created” the protection for pre-existing conditions that is codified in Obamacare. Chait’s evidence for Trump’s alleged opposition to protections for pre-existing conditions is that he supports a lawsuit seeking to overturn Obamacare.
Chait was not the only one to mischaracterize Trump’s tweet. Paul Waldman quoted the same tweet in a column in the Washington Post and said, “What’s notable here isn’t the lie that ‘I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare.’ He didn’t, of course — in fact, it was the Affordable Care Act that for the first time protected people with preexisting conditions.”
Aaron Ruper of Vox also called Trump’s claim to be a defender of the pre-existing conditions provision in Obamacare “pretty shameless.”
Again, Trump did not say that he’s responsible for the provision. What’s really shameless is how members of the media seemingly coordinated this false line of attack on Trump.
What everyone seems to forget is that Trump ran on repealing Obamacare, but saving protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Forbes noted in November 2016 that “Trump has consistently supported requiring insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions.” Not all Republicans supported this idea, and it is, frankly, about as sensible as allowing someone to buy car insurance after they’ve had an accident. But there’s no denying this was Trump’s policy position during the campaign, and not all Republicans were on board with this idea, because it forces insurance companies to charge higher rates. Republicans were never able to do this, but for years, their mantra was that they wanted a full repeal and replace. Trump’s approach to Obamacare has been more of piecemeal dismantling—less so because of him and more because Republicans were unable to repeal the whole thing, but still.
Trump may not have saved the pre-existing conditions provision, but he definitely did not try to “take credit for Obamacare.” He’s consistently run on the position that Obamacare should go, but protections for people with pre-existing conditions should stay in place. Whether you agree with this position or not doesn’t matter, but those are just the facts.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis