Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been firmly opposed to each iteration of a healthcare bill the Senate has put out this year, and this morning he used even stronger language to call out his Senate colleagues' "pork fest" replacement bill on CNN's "State of the Union."
Sen. McConnell is expected to hold a vote to begin debate on healthcare as early as Tuesday. Sen. Paul said he'd vote to begin debate as long as it was for a clean repeal, but not for the Senate bill. In January, though, he said it would be a mistake to not pass a replacement bill at the same time as repeal, and Tapper asked him to square those positions.
"Really, I've always been talking about replace at the same time. The problem is, Republicans can't seem to agree on what replacement means.
"Replacement is legalizing inexpensive insurance, which means the federal government doesn't regulate it and we will allow the sale of inexpensive insurance again, legalizing the ability to join in association across state lines. I thought that's what we as Republicans believe in, but it turns out many actually believe in this giant insurance bailout super fund, nearly $200 billion that they're going to give to the insurance executives and rich insurance companies. So I'm not for that."
Sen. Paul insists he's looking for a solution and not to simply obstruct, but he won't vote for a big spending bill.
"If we can do both [repeal and replace] at the same time, absolutely I'm still for that.
I'm looking for a way to get this done. If you divide it into a cleaner repeal and then you take the pork fest and put that into another bill, I think they can probably get Democrats, because I don't know a Democrat that won't vote for a big spending bill.
They can work with Democrats if they want bigger government, but let conservatives vote for an actual repeal of Obamacare."
Sen. Paul sees a big disconnect between the view Senate Republicans hold about how to fix Obamacare and what Republicans outside of Washington believe - and it's a critical difference.
"When you go home, I think you'll find most Republicans still want full repeal.
"What disappoints me about Senate Republicans, they seem to have insufficient confidence in what made America great. What made America great were not insurance regulations, insurance stabilization funds. What made us great was leaving people free to trade with each other, not regulating trade, getting the government out of it."
The party that supposedly believes in small government and minimal regulation has proposed a bill full of regulation, subsidies, and federal interference.
"If there has to be regulations, have them done at the same level. They're going to keep in place the Obamacare regulatory structure that causes the death spiral.
"The death spiral will continue under the Republican plan, but they're just going to subsidize it by giving billions and billions of dollars to insurance companies, and it's just really not what we're for."
As Sen. Paul said, the party ran for years on the "repeal" message and a belief that a free market would best serve people and their healthcare decisions - and it's time for them to practice what they preach.