Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has recently come under scrutiny for supporting his home state of Kentucky’s Kynect health care exchange system, which is only available because of the Affordable Care Act, according to Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast. Despite supporting Kynect, McConnell has maintained his anti-Obamacare stance, which some see as highly contradictory.
“More than 430,000 Kentuckians have health care now through Kynect,” Tomasky wrote. “Mitch wants to take it away. No, wait, he doesn’t! Well, he wants to take Obamacare away, and Kynect came through Obamacare, but somehow he’s going to keep Kynect.”
McConnell is not the only one with a complicated outlook on Obamacare. While CBS News reports that a higher than expected number of people have signed up for Obamacare, the law is still not especially popular with the public.
According to a YouGov poll, 50 percent of Americans either “strongly” or “somewhat” disapprove of Obamacare, and 46 percent want to repeal the law. Meanwhile, 48 percent want to keep the law and work to improve it, implying that the public is divided on the effects of Obamacare and whether it should stay or go.
Perhaps as a result of these statistics, several GOP leaders are now taking a less severe stance on Obamacare, leading some to wonder whether Republicans are going to continue fighting Obamacare at all.
While some members of the Republican Party believe that it is still important to combat Obamacare — "I think Obamacare needs to be repealed — lock, stock and barrel," Republican Indiana Gov. Mike Pence told CBN News recently — other members of the party believe health care reform is inevitable, and so trying to repeal or defund it is a waste of resources.
"You'll never repeal Obamacare as long as Obama is in the White House,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) told Slate. “That's why I never supported defund, because I knew it was impossible."
The fight isn’t over for many Republicans, however; it’s only a matter of changing rhetoric. “When a Republican says he or she wants to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare, the conservative base gets excited,” wrote David Drucker of the Washington Examiner. “But the average, Obamacare-opposing voter that the GOP is targeting in swing districts and states doesn’t find the message credible.”
Therefore, Drucker explains, it’s not an issue of Republicans being fickle or flip-flopping; they’re just looking for a new phraseology and a more practical approach to Obamacare, now that it has been more widely accepted on the national level.
As an anonymous Republican strategist told Drucker, "the party remains as committed as ever to opposing President Obama's health care overhaul. "
Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2