Republicans Will Take on Obamacare and Entitlements if They Win in Midterms, Mitch McConnell Says

Less than 24 hours after indicating that he would like to cut spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters that if Republicans win the Senate this November, they will once again take up their fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

In an interview Wednesday, McConnell said that the Republican failure to repeal the law in 2017 was a “disappointment.” If Republicans had the votes to “completely start over, we’d do it,” he said. “But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks.... We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”

President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to repeal Obamacare and has recently indicated at midterm rallies that he’d like it to happen as quickly as possible. The president has signed a number of executive orders designed to weaken and bring instability to the program, including abolishing the act’s individual mandate.

Congressional Republicans made two unsuccessful attempts to repeal and replace the plan last year but were unable to get a sufficient number of votes.

One proposed bill, which was written in secret and was completed just hours before a final vote was cast, would have removed between 16 million and 22 million people from their health care plans, leaving them uninsured.

About 20 million Americans are currently insured under Obamacare, and a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 54 percent of Americans support the current plan.

Still, the inability to repeal Obamacare, said McConnell, was “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”

mitch mcconnell, republicans, obamacare, entitlements Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters after the Senate voted to confirm Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at the U.S. Capitol. McConnell has said Republicans will revisit their attempts to repeal Obamacare after the midterm elections. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In his interview with Reuters, McConnell also clarified his desires to cut spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs, which are known in Washington D.C. as entitlement programs.

These programs, which are intended to help the nation’s poor and elderly “are the long-term drivers of the debt,” said McConnell, who led Congress in passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut that largely benefited corporations and wealthy Americans last year.

The federal deficit ballooned 17 percent this fiscal year, to $779 billion, the highest level since 2012. “At some point, we will have to sit down on a bipartisan basis and address the long-term drivers of the debt,” McConnell added before blaming Democrats for heavy spending.

In August, Congress passed a $717 billion defense policy bill, up from $610 billion the previous year. “We had to negotiate with the Democrats and spend more on the domestic side than I would have preferred,” in order to increase military spending, said McConnell.

The deficit in the U.S., which currently spends as much on its military as the next seven biggest-spending countries combined, is now on track to surpass $1 trillion before 2020. 

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