As part of its celebration of Black History Month, the Republican National Committee on Tuesday unveiled a series of radio ads, to be broadcast in Washington, D.C, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Detroit, that honor the accomplishments of three Republican “trailblazers.” But one of them, former Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan, is a chief architect of many of the policies currently found in the Affordable Care Act — the law that the RNC is itself feverishly trying to repeal.
Sullivan served as HHS Secretary under Republican President George H.W. Bush, and helped shape the administration’s national health care policy in the early 1990’s. The bill that Sullivan drafted for President Bush included some familiar-sounding provisions: insurance exchanges, subsidies for low-income individuals, and an individual mandate.
When asked about President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, Sullivan has made it clear that he supports the Affordable Care Act, even after its shaky rollout last fall.
“I’m for the Affordable Care Act,” he told the Anniston Star in November, after enrollment in the exchanges had already begun. “It’s an imperfect build and has a number of things that need to be addressed, but rather than working to try to dismantle it, we should work to improve it.”
He also didn’t mince words about the Republican Party and their efforts to repeal the law, pointing out the support that his own similar plan received from many of the same Republicans now fighting to undo the law. “The plan had the similar concept of the health insurance exchange, but now the Republican Party is attacking the same concept,” he told the Star. “I’m not for that kind of political one-upmanship.”
That the RNC has branded a champion of Obamacare as one of their “Republican Trailblazers” speaks less to a change of heart about Obamacare — Republicans have attempted to repeal the law more than 40 times — and more about the party’s difficulty finding leaders of color who truly align with the party’s agenda. In recent years, conservatives have also speciously sought to co-opt such black leaders as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass.
The other two black leaders the RNC cites in their advertisements are Judge Sara J. Harper, a former president of the Cleveland NAACP, and William “Bill” Brooks, a former Chairman of the GM Foundation who has donated to both Republicans and Democrats but gave the maximum campaign contribution to then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.