- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2017

President Trump exerted some friendly pressure on Sen. Rand Paul Monday night in his home state, telling a crowd in Kentucky that Americans won’t get tax cuts unless Mr. Paul and other reluctant Republican lawmakers support the administration-backed health care law to replace Obamacare.

“I happen to like, a lot, Sen. Rand Paul,” Mr. Trump told a packed arena in Louisville. “He’s a good guy. I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed, in some form, so we can pass massive tax reform, which we can’t do until this [Obamacare repeal] happens.”

The House is set to vote on the health-care law on Thursday to repeal and replace Obamacare with a system of tax credits for purchasing health insurance. The vote is still in doubt, and the president and his allies are still trying to line up support for the legislation that is opposed by some conservatives and most Democrats.

The president said that under Congress’ “crazy, arcane” rules, lawmakers cannot address his plans for “massive” tax cuts for individuals and businesses until the health-care legislation is approved.

“We want a very big tax cut, but cannot do that until we keep our promise to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare,” the president said. He called out praise to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Republican Reps. Andy Barr and James Comer.

“I have to thank them for their help and their support as we move toward the crucial House vote on Thursday — the seventh anniversary of Obamacare’s very painful passage,” Mr. Trump said. “This is our long awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare. We’re going to do it. What’s the alternative? The alternative is what you have, and what you have is nothing.”

The president said the White House is trying to add an amendment to the legislation to call for negotiating drug prices to lower prescription costs, but he’s not certain it will be included in the final bill.

“We’re trying to add it to this bill, and if we can’t, we’ll going to have it right after,” he said.

Mr. Trump blamed Democrats for passing Obamacare without any Republican support in 2010.

“They ignored the public, they ignored the voters, and they jammed a massive failed health care takeover right through Congress,” he said. “It’s time for Democrat leaders in Washington to take responsibility for the disaster they, and they alone, created. It’s been one broken promise after another.”

The campaign-style rally in Louisville was punctuated by chants of “U.S.A.!” from the crowd, and the president peppered his speech with references to patriotism and respect for the American flag.

At one point, Mr. Trump referred to a “San Francisco quarterback,” Colin Kaepernick, who made headlines last year by refusing to stand for the National Anthem before games. The president said he’d read a news article earlier in the day that said NFL owners were reluctant to sign Mr. Kaepernick “because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump.”

“Do you believe that?” he asked the crowd.

He said he wanted to tell the story to Kentuckians because “they like it when people actually stand for the American flag, right?”

In coal-rich Kentucky, Mr. Trump also pleased the audience with promises to issue executive orders that he said would help the coal-mining industry.

“We are going to put our coal miners back to work,” he said. “I have already eliminated a devasting anti-coal regulation, and that is just the beginning. A lot of coal miners are going back to work.”


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