The Corner

McConnell: Obama’s Historic ‘Misjudgment’

Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on Obamacare, Senator Mitch McConnell predicts that it will be remembered as this administration’s historic blunder. “For a bunch of smart guys, I think they completely misjudged this issue,” McConnell tells National Review Online. “They thought it was going to be like Medicare or Social Security — widely applauded by the American people. And I think they were genuinely surprised that it didn’t turn out that way.”

Since the health-care debate began three years ago, McConnell has been one of Obamacare’s leading critics. As the top-ranking Republican in the Senate, the Kentuckian kept the entire conference together — every single GOP senator voted “no” on final passage. These days, Senate Republicans remain united in opposition to the law, McConnell says, and they are prepared to dismantle it, should the Supreme Court decide to leave some or all parts of the statute intact.

“Rarely in life do you get a do-over, and very seldom in politics do you get a do-over,” McConnell says. “To use a medical metaphor, I would assure the American public that if we had another chance to revisit this issue, we wouldn’t take a meat axe to the health-care system; we’d take out a scalpel and use a much more modest approach that respects federalism and doesn’t assume that you can federalize all of American health care and deliver a better product.”

“We’ll find out later this week if we’ll have a chance to go back at it,” McConnell says. “And if we do, one thing I think we can say, with pretty great certainty, is that at the end of the year, the other side is not going to own the government like they did in early 2009. They will not be able to do anything they want to on this issue.” McConnell’s preference is to focus on cost issues and state-based health-care programs, such as risk pools for patients with preexisting conditions.

“We are going to be encouraging that, not trying to nationalize health-insurance standards,” McConnell says. “There are a variety of things that we can do that are more modest, restrained, and effective than having the federal government — which cannot handle the Medicare and Medicaid it has now — take over the rest of American health care. That’s where most of our members are comfortably situated on the eve of a really big decision.”

“But let’s assume the worst,” McConnell says. If Obamacare is upheld by the Supreme Court, that doesn’t mean Republicans will give up the repeal fight. “There are plenty of mistakes” that Congress has passed that are constitutional, but that doesn’t make them palatable. “We hope the American people will give us an opportunity to revisit this dreadful law, which is the worst piece of legislation that has been passed in my time here,” he says.

“This has been a long march,” McConnell tells me. But as long as Democrats continue to champion a “far-left proposal to Europeanize America,” he will battle for repeal.

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