It’s not often senators will call out their own leaders like this. Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI, accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, of telling moderate Republican senators that if the Obamacare replacement bill passed that the Medicaid reforms in the bill would never happen. Johnson called it, “a pretty significant breach of trust,” according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
The Washington Post reported on McConnell’s backroom statements last week.
The Weekly Standard reported a statement by McConnell’s office which, as the Standard points out, doesn’t exactly deny that McConnell told moderate GOP senators that the reforms would not happen.
“I prefer to speak for myself, and my view is that the Medicaid per capita cap with a responsible growth rate that is sustainable for taxpayers is the most important long-term reform in the bill,” said the statement. “That is why it has been in each draft we have released.”
As dishonest as McConnell may have been in dealing with all sides on this point, let’s note that there are plenty of less-than-honest statements about the bill.
For example, Senator Rand Paul, R-KY, has been holding out for full repeal of Obamacare. That’s simply not possible using the budget reconciliation process, and there was never any hope of getting Democrats to go along with a vote on full repeal. It also wouldn’t make sense since the government has already done damage to the health care market, so some transition would have to take place.
Paul’s plan made about as much sense as Johnson claiming that Republicans should have worked with the Democrats from the beginning on the repeal of Obamacare. That sounded nice and bi-partisan, but Johnson has been in Washington long enough to know that kind of cooperation wasn’t going to happen. Those disingenuous statements weren’t constructive, either.
Now Republicans are going to try to have a vote on the full repeal, just like Paul wants. That’ll make outside conservative groups that are using the improbable full repeal of Obamacare for fundraising happy, but the effort is doomed to failure. McConnell knows, it, Paul knows it, most conservative organizations know it, but we’re going to watch Republicans claim some sort of moral victory as they fall short of votes.