The Corner

Don’t Doubt that Kyl ‘Has the Stomach’ for Repeal

On Wednesday, Jeffrey H. Anderson, in a blog post for National Review Online, argued that Republicans should take a hard line on repealing Obamacare in coming months. In his piece, Anderson criticized a recent comment by Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), the GOP whip:

Sen. Jon Kyl said, “I would guess probably more realistically would be a potential repeal of pieces of the bill.” It lights the fire in the belly, doesn’t it?

With all due respect, Kyl tells NRO that he disagrees with Anderson’s conclusion, and that he “has the stomach” to fight to repeal Obamacare. “We have to be careful in suggesting that a full repeal is a realistic short-term goal,” he says. “That plays into the hands of the president, who is urging us to go ahead and try. It would be foolish, and a waste of time, to suggest to people that we can do a full repeal in coming months. We’ve got to be honest with people so they don’t become dispirited when that doesn’t happen. Nonetheless, while we may not be able to dismantle it entirely with this president in office, we just might be able to slice off pieces.”

Kyl says the GOP’s amendments during the recent Senate reconciliation process are a good indicator of issues under Republican consideration — ammunition for upcoming battles, he says, in what will be a longer repeal war. “We’re looking for every opportunity to change it, to repeal pieces, and to defund it. We don’t have the numbers now, but after the next election, we hopefully can start to effectively fight the appropriations measures. Other aspects may take two cycles, but however long it takes, repeal and replace is our goal. Will it happen tomorrow? No. But we will have members sign pledges to support repeal efforts.”

Making the argument to replace Obamacare is the key challenge. Kyl says it would be “disingenuous” to only hammer Democrats about repeal. “We need to let people know what we’d like to put in its place and remind people of the ideas we had,” he says. “Our purpose is not to offer nothing — we want to get into the kind of reforms we believe are best, talk about our ideas, and, of course, about how to get rid of this. Just as liberals have built up the social-welfare system brick by brick over the past 50 years, it’s not a bad strategy to begin to dismantle it brick by brick, like we did with welfare reform, while hoping to slice off major pieces.”

Republicans, Kyl says, will begin to map out a repeal-and-replace strategy over the upcoming Easter break. “We’re focusing on it,” he says. “To say we’re not, or to infer that none of us want to stop this, is just silly. While Obama is president, he’ll veto any major effort, so we need to be smart in looking at how we can win some votes to repeal pieces of the bill. We’re already highlighting some areas where we think Democrats will have a tough time voting against us.”

Obama, Kyl concludes, “has a great deal of hubris” to think that Obamacare is here to stay, and that the GOP will fumble in its opposition efforts. “I hope members get an earful over the break,” he says. “People are still upset. The polls reflect that. The president has misread American public opinion on this issue, as well as Americans’ willingness to endure the consequences of this legislation over time.”

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