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by Micah J. Fleck
The Intercept is reporting:
Over the last seven years, the GOP has won successive elections by highlighting problems with Obamacare, airing more than $235 million in negative ads slamming the law, and staging more than 50 high-profile repeal votes. In 2016 every major Republican presidential candidate, including Donald Trump, campaigned on a pledge to quickly get rid of it.
Now in total control of Congress and the White House, some GOP legislators are saying that the political assault on Obamacare was an exercise in cynical politics, and that an outright repeal was never on the table.
“We have Republicans who do not want to repeal Obamacare,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., on Sirius XM Patriot on Wednesday.
“They may have campaigned that way, they may have voted that way a couple of years ago when it didn’t make any difference,” Brooks continued. “But now that it makes a difference, there seems to not be the majority support that we need to pass legislation that we passed 50 or 60 times over five or six years.”
Other Republican lawmakers have made similar remarks in recent days.
“You know, I think maybe its easier to run on these platitudes, run on a platform like this,” said Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., when asked by local radio station News Talk 1290 if Republicans ran on repeal “simply to get elected or re-elected.”
Bacon, admitting that he supports provisions of the law, including coverage for pre-existing conditions, noted that governing can be very different from campaigning. “Sometimes things sound easier when you’re running,” Bacon added.
Another candid comment came from Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who told reporters last Friday that the dozens of repeal votes were cast in the past without any plan for viable legislation.
“Sometimes you’re playing fantasy football and sometimes you’re in the real game,” Barton told Talking Points Memo.
“We knew the president, if we could get a repeal bill to his desk, would almost certainly veto it. This time we knew if it got to the president’s desk it would be signed.”
Even House Speaker Paul Ryan, shortly after his legislation to overhaul the health care system was pulled from a vote, said that Republicans weren’t ready to meet promises on repealing and replacing Obamacare — an implicit concession that previous repeal votes were merely symbolic.
“We were a 10-year opposition party, where being against things was easy to do,” Ryan said, adding that his party wasn’t prepared to be the “governing party.”
“We will get there,” Ryan added, “but we weren’t there today.”
After the defeat of Ryan’s legislation last week, the speaker called Obamacare the “law of the land” that will remain “for the foreseeable future.”
Well, that’s nice.