Jul 18, 2017

7 years of GOP repeal promises and shifting goals

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The July downfall of the Senate health care bill was a big loss for Republicans who have been promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act since 2010. Here's how the GOP's rhetoric toward Barack Obama's signature law has shifted over that time.

March 2010: Affordable Care Act is signed into law

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the day after Obama signs the bill, says, "Repeal and replace will be the slogan for the fall." Days later, McConnell also criticizes the process in his weekly address: "Democrats decided to go the partisan route and blatantly ignore the will of the people."

October 2012: Romney on the campaign trail

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he'll give power and flexibility back to the states: "If elected President, I will repeal Obamacare and replace it — not with another massive federal bill that purports to solve all our problems from Washington, but with common-sense, patient-centered reforms suited to the challenges we face."

November 2012: "Obamacare is the law of the land."

After Obama is re-elected, House Speaker John Boehner says the GOP will not keep pursuing attempts to repeal Obamacare and calls it "the law of the land." He backs down after an uproar from conservatives and rank-and-file Republicans.

January 2016: Ryan has a plan

Obama vetoes a 2015 GOP bill to repeal parts of the ACA. That plan would have done away with key parts of the law, including the individual mandate, subsidies for people who buy private health insurance, and the expansion of Medicaid.

After the veto, newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan says, "The idea that Obamacare is the law of the land for good is a myth … So, next year, if we're sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law."

April 2016: Another presidential election

Sen. Ted Cruz says, if elected, he will "repeal every word of Obamacare." Presidential candidate Donald Trump says his administration will "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act at nearly every stump speech.

June 2017: Mixed messages

After the House repeal and replacement stalls in the Senate, following a Congressional Budget Office estimate that 22 million fewer people would have health coverage, Trump pushes a repeal now, replace later strategy — one that has no chance. HHS secretary Tom Price maintains that the GOP plan's deep Medicaid cuts "would not have individuals lose coverage."

And Vice President Mike Pence makes big promises for the Senate's Obamacare replacement plan, including beefed-up tax credit and a no-exceptions coverage model for people with pre-existing conditions. When drafting the Senate's bill, McConnell engages in the same closed-door strategy that he criticized Democrats for in 2010.

July 2017: Chaos

The fate of the Senate's bill hinged on three Republicans, and yesterday two more confirmed "no" votes put the bill over the edge. But McConnell is calling the senators' bluff by scheduling a new repeal-only vote — on the same bill that passed in 2015 — but three "no" votes killed that too.

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