WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is planning to meet with members of the trucking community Thursday.
The revelation came Monday during a press briefing by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as Spicer outlined aspects of the president’s agenda for the week.
“On Thursday, the president will hold an event with truck drivers and representatives from the trucking companies and industry on healthcare and its negative impacts on their industry and livelihood, which just happens to be the largest employer in 29 states,” Spicer told reporters.
No other details were made available, including who had been invited to attend.
Nor was it clear whether the discussion would be centered around Obamacare or the effort by Republicans to replace Obamacare with their own legislation.
The White House and Republican leaders in Congress scrambled on Tuesday to shore up support for their health care bill as critics went on the attack over new estimates that 14 million people would lose insurance coverage in the first year alone.
The findings from the Congressional Budget Office handed fresh ammunition to Democratic opponents of the GOP drive to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama's health care law.
The new figures, which estimated that 24 million people would lose insurance over a decade, also appeared to strengthen pockets of conservative resistance to the bill and rattle nerves among rank-and-file Republicans.
With Washington blanketed in a rare March snow, congressional GOP leaders and top aides to Trump got to work trying to salvage the legislation, which they hope to push through the House next week and the Senate the week after that. Trump has promised to sign the bill, fulfilling seven years of GOP promises to undo "Obamacare," even though the legislation breaks the president's own past promises to safeguard Medicaid and provide health insurance for all.
“We think we've created a system that saves money and allows more people to get affordable health care,” Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said Tuesday morning on MSNBC. Mulvaney disputed the CBO findings about how many people would lose coverage, while highlighting the agency's conclusions that the GOP bill would reduce the deficit by $337 billion over a decade and lower insurance premiums by around 10 percent starting in 2020. The CBO projects that premiums would sharply rise in 2018 and 2019 followed by a reduction.
The GOP legislation would use tax credits to help consumers buy health coverage, expand health savings accounts, phase out an expansion of Medicaid and cap that program for the future, end some requirements for health plans under Obama's law, and scrap a number of taxes.
Republicans say they are not trying to achieve the widespread coverage that Democrats aimed for by including penalties in the Affordable Care Act for people who weren't covered. Instead Republicans would eliminate that mandate, and their buzzword is "access" to affordable coverage for people who want it.
“You sit there and talk about coverage, but coverage is not the end. People don't get better with coverage,” Mulvaney said.
Angry Democrats, united against the GOP bill, scoffed at such claims.
“Trumpcare would be a nightmare for the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said at a news conference at the Capitol with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
Criticism also is coming from conservatives who threaten to foil GOP leaders' plans of swift passage of the legislation before Easter, when Congress is scheduled to go on a two-week recess that could expose lawmakers to town hall fury.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the Freedom Caucus and one of the most outspoken critics of the bill, reiterated Tuesday that he and other conservatives have been working with the White House on changes to the Republican health plan. They have dubbed the bill "Obamacare Lite," saying it doesn't fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and installs a new but similar system of tax credits that they deride as a new entitlement.