Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Wednesday that if Republicans maintain control of Congress after the midterms, they will once again attempt to repeal Obamacare.
“If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks,” McConnell said. “We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”
McConnell referred to the GOP’s failed crusades to repeal the health care law as “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”
Considering polls show healthcare at the top of voters’ concerns this year — and Democrats around the country are running on preserving it — this is seen as an opportunity for Democrats less than three weeks out from election day.
if Democrats don’t make this into every single ad between now and the election they are committing political malpractice https://t.co/ERBkvhxhbY
— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) October 17, 2018
And in fact Democrats wasted no time in pouncing on McConnell’s words.
“If Republicans retain the Senate they will do everything they can to take away families’ health care and raise their costs,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement. “Americans should take Senator McConnell at his word.”
Other Democrats both inside and outside of the Senate sounded the alarm.
Senate Republicans: still coming for your healthcarehttps://t.co/DUBQhVuNMo
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) October 17, 2018
It's official: Republicans will try to repeal the Affordable Care Act (again) if they win enough seats in November. We can't sit this election out. Health care is on the line. https://t.co/mpYU0zJsg6
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) October 17, 2018
The GOP wants to try again to kick tens of millions of Americans off of their health insurance, strip away protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and spike the cost of premiums for everyone. I’ll do everything in my power to stop them.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) October 17, 2018
Want another reason to turn out in November and vote for Democrats? Mitch McConnell is admitting that Republicans will repeal Obamacare if given the chance. We CANNOT allow this to happen! VOTE! https://t.co/BiDr6MMdVR
— Jeff Merkley (@JeffMerkley) October 18, 2018
This is the choice Americans will make in November. Do you want Republicans to try again to slash protections for people with pre-existing conditions? Or do you want a health care system that works for everyone? The choice is yours, America.https://t.co/JAIRF8DWPo
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 17, 2018
Last year people spoke up and made their voices heard to stop the awful Trumpcare bill, but President Trump & Senate Republicans still want to sabotage our health care. https://t.co/yEKgBe3rWu
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) October 18, 2018
Make no mistake—President Trump and Senate Republicans continue to plan their assault on health care for families across the country. https://t.co/yEKgBel2O2
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) October 17, 2018
Republicans must stop their sabotage of our health care system. They must stop driving up prices. They must work with Democrats to address the damage they've done so we can increase access and lower prices for patients and families. https://t.co/yEKgBe3rWu
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) October 18, 2018
Americans deserve fully-funded Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security both because living with dignity should be a right, and because workers *earn* these benefits. They’re not privileges.
Republicans will try to steal them if they retain Congress. https://t.co/T2YdeCaghz
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) October 17, 2018
We fought back against Republicans' attacks on Americans' health care before and we’ll keep fighting back as long as these reckless attacks continue. https://t.co/7nSLVgwenb
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) October 17, 2018
Republican control of the Senate next Congress means one thing: more health care uncertainty and sabotage. Majority Leader McConnell made that clear today advocating for another try at an ACA repeal and potential cuts to Medicare and Medicaid: https://t.co/bM2xTvEnTQ
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) October 17, 2018
Health care is on the ballot in this election. I’m running to protect the 2.8 million Arizonans with pre-existing conditions. @MarthaMcSally voted to gut their protections. The choice is clear. #AZSenhttps://t.co/qRUCafL71V
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) October 17, 2018
What's at stake in this election: the GOP will try again to repeal the Affordable Care Act – & protections for pre-existing conditions – if they have the votes in the Senate.
— Jacky Rosen (@RosenforNevada) October 18, 2018
I can think of tens of millions of reasons why this is a bad idea, and they're all Americans who would lose their health care. https://t.co/I4pPKDwFq1
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) October 18, 2018
Affordable health care is on the ballot.
If we don't keep #NV03 blue, that's one more vote to strip protections for pre-existing conditions, leaving millions without coverage.
— Susie Lee (@SusieLeeNV) October 18, 2018
McConnell also plans to go after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which he calls “entitlements,” as a means of reducing the federal budget deficit.
The spending shortfall has ballooned to nearly $800 billion because of the massive tax cut passage passed late last year, spending increases, and rising interest payments on the national debt.
McConnell claimed last year that the tax cuts would pay for themselves.
“I not only don’t think it will increase the deficit, I think it will be beyond revenue-neutral,” he said. “In other words, I think it will produce more than enough to fill that gap.”
Now that the tax reductions have exploded the deficit, however, McConnell is taking aim at social safety nets.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem,” McConnell said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future.”
He added that it would be “very difficult to do entitlement reform, and we’re talking about Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that entitlement changes, which is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard,” McConnell said, “may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government.”
McConnell reaffirmed his position in an interview with Reuters.
“We all know that there will be no solution to that, short of some kind of bipartisan grand bargain that makes the very, very popular entitlement programs be in a position to be sustained. That hasn’t happened since the ‘80s,” McConnell said. “But at some point we will have to sit down on a bipartisan basis and address the long-term drivers of the debt.”
McConnell’s comments have supporters of the ACA and those that oppose cutting social programs extremely nervous.