Why Tom Price Got Fired
The short answer? He wasn’t doing much of anything other sitting around collecting a paycheck and soaking up taxpayer money. The longer answer, however, has a lot of interesting tidbits…
But his demise was months in the making, as the president continued to lose trust in the Health and Human Services secretary who rarely attended Oval Office strategy meetings, had little sway or influence on Capitol Hill, and was associated in the president’s mind with one of the administration’s biggest defeats — the failure to repeal Obamacare.
Of particular notoriety: A picture of Price in March drinking at Bullfeathers, a famed Capitol Hill bar, as his colleagues tried to wrangle votes for the president’s signature initiative.
The president was initially attracted to Price because he was a doctor, a supporter and “looked the part,” one adviser with direct knowledge said, plus he was given positive reviews from House Speaker Paul Ryan and others on Capitol Hill.
Leading the effort to negotiate with senators on the Hill was Seema Verma from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Marc Short, head of legislative affairs. Two senior White House officials said Price’s relationships at the Capitol were not as good as he promised — and that some members preferred not to deal with him. Many members saw him as prickly and not particularly likable, one senior GOP aide said, damaging his ability to negotiate.
Andrew Bremberg, the head of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, was more involved in policy decisions than Price, these people said.
Price was often out of town during key stretches of the presidency, and while several senior officials said they weren’t aware of his private jet use, there was a general consensus that he was often nowhere to be found.
“I didn’t know he was on private jets,” one senior administration official said. “I knew he was never there.”
The real reason Price was fired was not the private jets; that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back. The issue is that he was a typical swamp dweller who didn’t work with Trump and sat back and enjoyed what seems to have been a cushy, do-nothing job. He had to know the main reason he was hired was to help get Obamacare repeal done, and yet he was nowhere to be found… and often out of town, to boot.
I’m also totally unsurprised that he was given positive reviews by Ryan. I’d love to know who else on Capital Hill recommended him for the job.