Trump walks back campaign promises
President Barack Obama asked him to reconsider his plans to completely repeal the act.
American president-elect Donald Trump and several of his top allies and advisers seemed to back away from key promises they had made during the election campaign.
Trump said he is considering leaving part of the Affordable Care Act in place, despite his repeated campaign pledges to repeal it. In his first interview since being elected, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he would "quickly" act on the 2010 health law - popularly known as Obamacare - which he says has become so expensive that "you can't use it".
"Either Obamacare will be amended, or repealed and replaced," Trump said.
In a Wednesday meeting with Trump, President Barack Obama asked him to reconsider his plans to completely repeal the act. "I told him I will look at his suggestions, and out of respect, I will do that," Trump said of the meeting.
In the WSJ interview, Trump said he is in favour of keeping two specific provisions of the act: one which allows parents to provide years of additional coverage for their children on their insurance policies, and one that prohibits insurers from denying coverage due to a patient's existing conditions.
"I like those very much," he said.
Although he declined to give a single top priority - saying that he has "a lot of first priorities" - he said that during the first few weeks and months of his administration he would focus on deregulating financial institutions, allowing "banks to lend again" and securing the country's borders.
Additionally, he repeated his campaign vow to create jobs through infrastructure projects, and said he would potentially impose tariffs on products of American companies that move overseas.
Jobs, he noted, are one way in which he wants to unite the country following a divisive and bitter electoral campaign.
"I want a country that loves each other," Trump said. "I want to stress that."
When asked by the WSJ whether his campaign rhetoric had "gone too far", Trump had a simple answer.
"No. I won," he said, adding that "it's different now." Trump also said he would rely heavily on running mate Mike Pence to handle "different areas of policy" and liaise with congress, adding that Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan have a friendly relationship.
Regarding foreign affairs, Trump said that he had heard from most foreign leaders following his electoral victory, with the notable exception of Chinese president Xi Jinping. Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said, sent a "beautiful" letter. A phone call between the two was also scheduled, Trump added.
Although he did not give specifics, Trump also hinted that American policy towards moderate opposition groups in Syria might change.
"I've had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria," he said, adding that the focus would be on fighting Daesh.
"My attitude was you're fighting Syria, Syria is fighting Daesh, and you have to get rid of Daesh. Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria," he said. "Now we're backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are."
Trump also avoided questions from reporters regarding his oft-repeated campaign pledge to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton's misuse of a private e-mail server. "It's not something I've given a lot of thought, because I want to solve health care, jobs, border control, tax reform," he noted.
He parried a question on banning Muslims from entering the country. "Will you ask Congress to ban all Muslims from entering the country?" a reporter asked. Trump appeared to hear the question before thanking everybody and walking away, the Washingon Post reported.\
Several key Trump allies and advisers also seemed to step away from promises that he made during the election. Newt Gingrich, for example, said he did not believe that Mexico pay for a border wall, as Trump had vowed.
"He'll spend a lot of time controlling the border. He may not spend very much time trying to get Mexico to pay for it, but it was a great campaign device," Gingrich said.
Trump's advisers have also been cautious while commenting on the Iranian nuclear deal, which Trump has promised to "rip up".
"?'Ripping up' is maybe a too strong of word. He's gonna take that agreement, it's been done before in international context, and then review it," Trump adviser Walid Phares said on Thursday.
"He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from Iranians to restore few issues or change few issues. And there will be a discussion; it could be a tense discussion."
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