Trump and Schumer Trade Barbs Over Health-Care Overhaul

  • President-elect calls Schumer ‘head clown’ of Democrats
  • Schumer says Trump’s plan would ‘make America sick again’

Schumer: GOP Will Make 'America Sick Again'

President-elect Donald Trump showed signs Thursday of frustration with top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer even as he called for help from across the aisle in reshaping federal health care law.

In a series of tweets, Trump described Schumer, who represents New York, as his party’s “head clown” and said that he knows the health-care law his party championed is in trouble. Schumer and other Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill Wednesday unveiled a new slogan they say encapsulates Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act: it would “make America sick again,” a play on Trump’s campaign slogan, “make America great again.”

The name-calling between the two New Yorkers may be a sign of fractures in a relationship dating to the 1980s -- including a Schumer stint on Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice.” While they don’t describe each other as friends, both have indicated some interest in working together once Trump enters the White House.

"This is serious, serious stuff," Schumer told reporters Thursday morning. "People’s health is at stake. I’d say to the president-elect and the Republicans that this is not a time for calling names."

Trump starts nearly every day with a missive on Twitter, and on Thursday his target was partisan politics. After describing Democrats on Wednesday as “Schumer’s clowns," he tweeted Thursday that the party has overlooked problems with Obamacare and instead opted to “do the typical political thing and BLAME.” But he ended the three-tweet series with another message calling on both parties to work together on a less expensive and “FAR BETTER!” health care plan.

Schumer responded that Trump should "roll up his sleeves and show us a replacement plan that will cover the 20 million Americans who gained coverage" under Obamacare. Congressional Republicans have not yet agreed on a plan to repeal the law, much less a policy to replace it.

‘Clowning Around’

As he unveiled his party’s new health-care slogan on Wednesday, Schumer said that "Republicans should stop clowning around with the people’s Medicare, Medicaid and health care" and were making a mistake in prioritizing repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Post reported this week that Trump told Schumer during a recent call that he likes the senator more than he likes the two top congressional Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who were slow to come around to supporting Trump’s election.

In November, Trump tweeted that he has “always had a good relationship with Chuck Schumer,” who he described as having “the ability to get things done” and “far smarter” than then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Back in 2006, Schumer appeared on Trump’s "The Apprentice" and praised the real-estate mogul. "Even when he was much younger, you knew that he was gonna go places," he said, after telling the show’s contestants that his grandfather and Trump’s father were builders together in Brooklyn.

Not Friends

These days, Schumer isn’t quite as positive about the president-elect but has indicated he’s willing to work with him. While Democrats won’t be a “rubber stamp” for Trump, if he proposes actions that align with the party’s values "we will work in good faith to perfect and, potentially, enact it,” he said Tuesday. “When he doesn’t, we will resist.”

But Schumer has been careful in his positioning toward his fellow New Yorker, noting that sharing a hometown does not make them friends.

“He was not my friend. We never went golfing together, even had a meal together,” the senator told Politico in November. “He’s called me, we’ve had civil conversations a couple of times. But I’ve got to see what he does.”

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