President Donald Trump began his statement on health care this afternoon by incorrectly saying that Obamacare became law 17 years ago.
“For the past 17 years, Obamacare has wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent, hardworking Americans,” Trump said at the top of a statement delivered from the White House on Monday. Not counting the president thanking everyone for being there, this was the very first sentence of his speech. You can see the moment in context here.
Obviously, President Trump meant to say seven years, as the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010. He did correctly say the phrase “for the past seven years” a few times throughout the remainder of the statement, so he probably just misread the teleprompter when he said 17. It could also have been a typo in the actual speech.
Almost immediately after this sentence was uttered, Trump was mocked on social media, especially because his error came literally four words into his highly-anticipated remarks on health care. This also stood out because it ocurred in the same speech during which Trump called Obamacare a “big, fat, ugly lie.”
Trump’s mistake made MSNBC’s chyron, which quoted the president’s opening statement before pointing out in parentheses that Obamacare became law in 2010. Fact-checking the president’s remarks in real time on the chyron has become common on MSNBC.
NBC News also led its online coverage of Trump’s speech by pointing out his “17 years” mistake. They wrote, “‘For the last 17 years Obamacare has wreaked havoc on the lives of innocent, hard working Americans,’ Trump said of the healthcare bill that was actually passed seven, not seventeen, years ago.” (That article has since been altered.)
As political pundits were quick to point out, Trump’s gaffe comes a few days after he hired a new communications director: Anthony Scaramucci, who joined the White House on Friday. It was Scaramucci’s hiring that caused Sean Spicer to resign as press secretary.
The purpose of President Trump’s speech on Monday afternoon was to encourage Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act following a failed attempt at doing so in the Senate. He spoke in the Roosevelt Room in front of people he referred to as the victims of Obamacare.
“They say death, death, death,” Trump said. “Well, Obamacare is death.”
Trump also said that Republicans must do what they said they were going to do by repealing the health care law.
“For Senate Republicans, this is their chance to keep their promise,” Trump said. “Over and over again, they said repeal and replace, repeal and replace. But they can now keep their promise to the American people.”