Endangered Republican Promises to Repeal Obamacare, No One Buys It

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 2 2014 4:52 PM

Endangered Republican Promises to Repeal Obamacare, No One Buys It

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Let's repeal! Who cares if people lose coverage?

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Election day is tomorrow, and incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran's campaign has courted some media derision with this punchy little tweet.

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Cochran's opponent, Chris McDaniel, has campaigned on Obamacare repeal. In a short interview last week, he repeated that and told me the number of people whose care would be interrupted by repeal (all those folks on exchanges and expanded Medicaid) was smaller than the press let on. But Cochran's never talked through the logic of repeal. This quote comes out of nowhere. 

And it's hard to see how he believes it. Slowly, as I've been irritatingly reporting, Republicans are shifting their 2015 promise to "repeal" of the law to "fixing" the law. At the Republican Leadership Conference this weekend, I asked Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson if Republicans could actually repeal Obamacare in 2015.

"I'm a sales and marketing guy," said Johnson. "One of my enormous frustrations in Washington is, there's no marketing effort." He wanted to see the party pass a bill before the election that teed up something, anything for 2015 -- something to eliminate all mandates, let terminal patients choose clinical trials without FDA approval, and kill the medical device tax.

"Maybe we pass it, maybe we win, maybe the president has to sign it like Bill Clinton had to sign welfare reform," he said. "You'll never repeal Obamacare as long as Obama is in the White House. I think Heritage Action admitted that after the defund fight. That's why I never supported defund, because I knew it was impossible."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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