WASHINGTON — President Trump, trying to put the best possible face on a major defeat on Friday, dismissed the scuttled bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as a byproduct of Democratic partisanship. He predicted that Democrats would return to him to make a deal in roughly a year.
“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview with The New York Times. “So when you get zero from the other side — they let us down because they’re hurting the people. The good news is they now own health care, they now own Obamacare.”
He tried to minimize the deep divisions within his own party that prevented Speaker Paul D. Ryan from securing passage of the bill.
Mr. Trump insisted that the Affordable Care Act will collapse in the next year, which will then force Democrats to come to the bargaining table for a new bill. “The best thing that can happen is that we let the Democrats, that we let Obamacare continue, they’ll have increases from 50 to 100 percent,” he said. “And when it explodes they’ll come to me to make a deal. And I’m open to that.”
Although enrollment in the Affordable Care Act declined slightly in the past year, there is no sign that it is collapsing. Its expansion of Medicaid continues to grow.
Mr. Trump said that “when they come to make a deal,” he would be open and receptive to it. He singled out the Tuesday Group moderates for praise, calling them “terrific,” an implicit jab at the House Freedom Caucus, which his aides had expressed frustration with during negotiations.
Asked if he was worried it would harm the party, Mr. Trump said, “I’ll let you know in a year.” He maintained that they were six to 12 votes away from getting it across the finish line.
He emphatically did not fault Mr. Ryan.
“I don’t blame him for a thing, I really don’t,” Mr. Trump said. He added: “Even during the midst of negotiations I said the best thing that could happen was just to back off. I said, I’ll do it now because I’m a team player.” He said that Mr. Ryan did not apologize to him, adding: “Look, he tried. He tried very hard.”
“I’m not disappointed,” he insisted. “If I were, I wouldn’t be calling you.”
Mr. Trump said that in states he had visited in the last two weeks, Tennessee and Kentucky, the problems with President Barack Obama’s signature legislation were evident. The president said he was now moving on to taxes and trade as priorities.
Mr. Trump described his first major legislative experience as not terribly different than what his previous negotiations as a real-estate developer had been like.
“The best thing that could happen is exactly what happened — watch,” he said. He also said he was pleased to have this behind him.
“It’s enough already,” he said of the back and forth between factions of the Republican Party.