Republican Senator Mitch McConnell is in the midst of a fiercely competitive re-election campaign in his home state of Kentucky against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. However, the 72-year-old Minority Leader of the Senate is already talking about the future of Obamacare should he win in the upcoming election.
McConnell recently told Fox News this week that taking aim at the Affordable Care Act is at the top of his list of priorities for next year, although he knows that getting rid of the law isn’t going to happen as long as President Obama is in office.
“Obviously, he’s not going to sign a full repeal,” McConnell said.
McConnell also knows that it would take 60 votes in the Senate to make it happen. “No one thinks we’re going to have 60 Republicans. And it would take a presidential signature. No one thinks we’re going to get that,” McConnell told Fox News.
But Brian Gottlief, a Republican strategist for Purple Strategies, says that he thinks the GOP will bring up enough controversial pieces of Obamacare to force Democrats to take tough votes. “Issues like the employer mandate,” he said, “and the medical device tax will certainly come up for votes.”
“There are pieces of [the law] that are extremely unpopular with the American public that the Senate ought to have a chance to vote on,” he said, mentioning that a number of Democratic senators already support the repeal on Obamacare’s tax on medical devices.
“I’d like to put the Senate Democrats in the position of voting on the most unpopular parts of this law, and see if we can put it on the president’s desk and make him take real ownership of this highly destructive Obamacare,” he said.
However there are some that no longer believe what Senator McConnell says.
“He says he wants to rip Obamacare out ‘root and branch,’ but then flips days before his election and says he plans to surrender,” said Mary Vought, spokeswoman for the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group that has pushed Tea Party candidates in GOP primaries against establishment incumbents.
But despite what McConnell’s hopes are, should Republicans take control of the Senate with the 114th Congress, his margin of control is likely to be much smaller than what Democrat Harry Reid currently holds. In addition, some of the new GOP senators will be replacing red-state Democrats who had already been voting with Republicans on many issues. This means that McConnell will get fewer votes on many bills than the numbers suggest.
Republican Steve King (Iowa) still believes that the GOP should continue to vote to completely repeal the law to set an agenda for 2016.
“It’s not so much about what could be passed but setting the agenda and debate for the next presidential race,” he said.
President Obama still has two years in office and will most likely block any major changes to the law. After that, questions rise as to who will take his seat. If Hillary Clinton runs and wins, many of these arguments will be moot.
In the meantime, many residents in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky are taking advantage of Kynect, Kentucky’s healthcare connection that is currently providing Medicaid and private insurance to more than 400,000 state residents.