McConnell: Yeah, Repealing Obamacare Isn’t Going to be Easy

Daniel Doherty

7/3/2012 10:02:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

In the aftermath of the much-anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) last week, in which Chief Justice John Roberts essentially saved the president’s “signature” legislative achievement, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell is now unsure whether lawmakers in Congress will be able to repeal the president’s unpopular health care law.

It's on his to-do list, but U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the odds are against repealing the health care law championed by President Barack Obama.

The Kentucky Republican said Monday it's hard to unravel something of the magnitude of the 2,700-page health care law, WHAS-TV (http://bit.ly/LSUtqX ) reports.

"If you thought it was a good idea for the federal government to go in this direction, I'd say the odds are still on your side," McConnell said. "Because it's a lot harder to undo something than it is to stop it in the first place."

McConnell discussed the law in comments to about 50 people at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown. The state's senior senator was making stops at Kentucky hospitals discussing what's next since last week's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court's that the law was constitutional.

The court upheld the law's crucial mandate that individuals buy health insurance or face a penalty.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, provided the pivotal vote in that decision by ruling that the penalty was legal under the government's taxing authority. While technically handing a political victory to Obama, Roberts' ruling invigorated Republicans eager to cast the law as a new tax.

There is, of course, no denying the fact that once the federal government passes a massive new entitlement program (i.e. Obamacare) it’s almost impossible to repeal it. But my own view on the subject is somewhat less cynical. As many have argued, the surest way to throw out Obamacare – a law more than half of Americans have consistently despised since it was first signed into law two years ago – is electing new members of Congress as well as a new president. And while it’s impossible to predict whether Mitt Romney will defeat President Obama in November, recent polls suggest the presumptive Republican nominee is in very good shape. Presumably, also, if Mitt Romney wins the presidential election Republicans will have a very good shot at retaking the Senate. And that, in turn, would be encouraging news.

If given control of the Senate next year, McConnell said he would support using budget reconciliation rules to repeal it. Doing so would prohibit Senate filibusters and require only 51 votes to succeed. In 2010, Republicans lambasted Democrats for relying on these rules to pass the health care bill, calling their tactics unusual and hyperpartisan.

Incidentally, as Kate noted in her post-Supreme Court ruling write-up, Chief Justice John Robert’s controversial decision to uphold the law on the thinnest of grounds may in fact make is easier for lawmakers to repeal it. Indeed, while the constitutionality of the mandate has been resolved, millions of Americans will now be forced to forgo buying health insurance rather than purchase something they simply can’t afford. In some ways, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold the law changes exactly nothing. Millions of Americans will still be uninsured, health care costs will still be too high, and all Americans – including those who refuse to buy health insurance – will still be taxed. In short, if this isn’t motivation enough to elect leaders – leaders who will repeal and replace Obamacare with more practical and sensible reforms -- I don’t know what will.