We won't try to repeal all of ObamaCare, says Cornyn

There’s probably something he could have said that would depress his base more than this, but offhand, I can’t think what that might be. He’s trying to reassure centrists here that repeal wouldn’t mean a return to the status quo but merely replacing O-Care with a more moderate GOP-crafted plan — after all, even a stalwart like Pence offered to work with centrist Dems on bipartisan reform — but given the anxiety among the grassroots that Republicans won’t have the political will to roll this thing back even after they return to power, this is pure poison.

Limbaugh warned them yesterday (see here at around 3:55) that the “repeal!” cries had better be more than a campaign slogan. So much for that.

In the wake of the passage of health care reform, nearly the entire slate of Republican senatorial candidates seems ready to run on a repeal of the bill. But now, the lawmaker overseeing their election strategy is softening the message. Rather than promising to scrap the bill in its entirety, the GOP will pledge to just get rid of the more controversial parts…

“There is non-controversial stuff here like the preexisting conditions exclusion and those sorts of things,” the Texas Republican said. “Now we are not interested in repealing that. And that is frankly a distraction.”

What the GOP will work to repeal, Cornyn explained, are provisions that result in “tax increases on middle class families,” language that forced “an increase in the premium costs for people who have insurance now” and the “cuts to Medicare” included in the legislation…

The senator’s comments on Tuesday also included a push to restore funds for Medicare Advantage — an odd political moment, considering the GOP’s self-promotion as the party that trims the fat off entitlement programs.

“Without perhaps realizing it,” writes Ramesh Ponnuru, “Cornyn has come out for tinkering at the edges of Obamacare.” Indeed. I shudder to think what the tea party reaction will be to third-party candidacies now, but the political consequences here are less alarming than the policy consequences. Does Cornyn … not understand that the preexisting conditions exemption will also drive up premiums? If insurers can’t refuse to cover high-risk clients, that risk will need to be spread. And guess who it’ll be spread to. Quoth Ross Douthat:

But to the extent that Cornyn’s vision coheres, what he seems to be proposing is a reform of the reform that keeps the goodies and takes away the spending cuts and tax increases that pay for them.

California, here we come …

Here’s Cornyn’s statement insisting that he was misquoted by HuffPo. Was he?

Some media outlets have misrepresented my position on repealing and replacing the President’s $2.6 trillion health care bill. Make no mistake about it: I fully support repealing this Washington takeover of health care and replacing it with a bipartisan bill that lowers the cost of health care.

“Republicans have long pointed out that there are areas of health care reform where there is bipartisan agreement. Yet, instead of working with Republicans to solve issues of bipartisan concern such as pre-existing condition exclusions, Democrats insisted on a purely partisan bill that included massive tax hikes, trillions of dollars in new taxpayer spending, and cuts to Medicare, while failing to address rising health care costs.

“We will do what Democrats failed to do; start with common-sense measures and craft a truly bipartisan bill that does not raise taxes, does not pillage $500 billion from a bankrupt Medicare program and does not increase premiums on working families.

To some extent we’re arguing semantics here — “partial repeal plus some new provisions” is equivalent to total repeal plus a substitute Republican law that replicates a few aspects of O-Care — but it’s half-assed to identify individual provisions that’ll be kept in place not because they’re cost-effective or because they’re essential to a grand GOP plan but because they’re “non-controversial.” That’s dangerously close to saying they’ll be retained because they’re popular, which, per Douthat, is precisely how California ended up in the mess it’s in. The time has come for hard choices. Are they up to it?

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David Strom 2:31 PM on May 28, 2023