President Trump laid out a pretty general blueprint for Obamacare replacement last night — mostly tracking with the draft House Republican plan, but with a few new twists, like lower drug costs and a hint of tort reform. (Here's what I wrote about it.) But his real message to Congress was: Don't screw this up.
That's why he specifically mentioned tax credits. It was an un-Trumpian thing to talk about, but it was his way of poking the conservative hardliners in the ribs and warning them not to tank the repeal effort. They're complaining that refundable tax credits, the kind that are in the draft House bill, would be basically like a new entitlement. (If you were reading the Axios health care news stream yesterday, you knew Trump would mention the tax credits because Jonathan Swan and Caitlin Owens told you.)
Good luck with that: Trump probably didn't turn it around with one speech. Both Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, two of the Senate hardliners who don't like the draft bill, were still tweeting about #FullRepeal after the speech. And some didn't take the hint: "What I heard Trump say was something very similar to what Sen. Paul and I introduced." said Rep. Mark Sanford, who wrote the Obamacare replacement bill the conservatives prefer, per Politico.
The one thing Trump didn't do: He didn't help Republicans solve their biggest problems — like how to cover people with pre-existing conditions without Obamacare's individual mandate, and how exactly he wants them to lower drug costs.