Or did he make that pledge? This moment doesn’t get included in the video from The Register-Herald, but it will be the most-remarked part of their interview with Senator Joe Manchin. The West Virginia Democrat seems to announce that he will vote to repeal ObamaCare, although he wants an alternative that fixes its problems, too. It’s a bit like eating your cake and having it too– and from the context, it’s not explicitly clear that he’d vote for repeal:
He asked for all the listeners to let him and other lawmakers know their thoughts on the variety of topics, including the Affordable Care Act.
“We spend more on health care than any state, but we rank 43rd on wellness and longevity.”
Both parties agree on many aspects of the ACA, such as pre-existing conditions not being excluded from coverage and no lifetime caps, but there are still many kinks that need to be fixed, Manchin said.
“I will vote tomorrow to repeal (the ACA), but I want to fix the problems in it.”
He said the ACA is essentially a product and the government needs to find a way to “sell it” and make their customers want to buy it.
Is the Senate taking up a repeal package? The House has passed 40 bills repealing ObamaCare, most of which Harry Reid has ignored. Senate Republicans have been working on a repeal-and-replace plan, as Forbes reported last month, but I’m unaware of a bill on the Senate floor at the moment. It seems unlikely in the extreme that Reid would allow one to get onto the Senate floor in an election year, but perhaps he’d do so in order to allow a few highly vulnerable red-state Democrats to vote for it while retaining 51 votes to kill it. That would only provide cover for four Democrats, though, and Manchin wouldn’t need that cover until 2018. A suddenly-bipartisan repeal pledge would put more pressure on other Senate Democrats who actually have to defend their seats in November — unlike Manchin, who won a full term in 2012 — and undo any good a cover vote might provide.
Besides, the context of the reporting here sounds as though Manchin is confused or misspoke. He will vote for repeal but he wants to fix it? He will vote for repeal but the government needs to sell it? Andrew Johnson notes at The Corner that Manchin’s talked before about the problems going beyond a failed sales pitch, but this sounds as though either Manchin’s confused or the reporter was.
Unfortunately, the Register-Herald didn’t include this in the video clips of their Manchin interview. When the reporter asks, “Speaking of confidence in government,” one expects the ObamaCare question to arise, but instead it’s just a question about the budget. Talk about missed opportunities…
Update: Manchin hit retreat pretty quickly:
I've never supported repealing the ACA because I came to Washington to find solutions to our country’s problems. http://t.co/MfhGQJFppG
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) February 21, 2014
I think what Manchin might have been trying to say is that he would vote for repeal, but would rather fix ObamaCare. At least that’s what I think he tried to say. Maybe the newspaper should release the entire videotape.
Update: Manchin’s office sent his entire official statement:
I have never supported repealing the Affordable Care Act because I came to Washington to find solutions to our country’s problems. We cannot go back to the days when millions of Americans were uninsured and nearly twenty percent of our GDP was spent on healthcare, while only being ranked 43rd in the world in health and wellness outcomes. The Affordable Care Act does some things well, like expanding access to preventative care, providing access to those with pre-existing conditions, and closing the Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole, but the law has many flaws. That is why I have supported legislation to delay the individual mandate penalty for a year, define a full-time work-week at forty hours instead of thirty, grandfather in existing plans that Americans are happy with, repeal the burdensome 1099 requirements on small businesses and fix a technical error that unduly harmed volunteer firefighters. We should be working together to identify which parts of the law are broken and need to be fixed. We may learn that some parts of the law can’t be repaired, and we should eliminate those parts entirely. I wasn’t here when this bill passed, and the easiest thing I could do as a Senator is to vote no on everything, but the people of West Virginia sent me here to solve problems, and I will continue to work to solve the problems in the health care bill.