Yesterday, ThinkProgress highlighted a divide among Republicans about whether try to repeal part of the health care reform legislation or “the whole thing.” Hard right conservatives like Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-TN), Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and Zach Wamp (R-TN) who say they’re “going to repeal the whole thing” and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) who told CNN he “does not want” to repeal everything in the bill. In an interview with Huffington Post’s Sam Stein yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, appeared to side with Gingrey in favor of only seeking partial repeal:
In a brief chat with the Huffington Post on Tuesday, National Republican Senatorial Committee chair John Cornyn (R-Tex.) implicitly acknowledged that Republicans are content with allowing some elements of Obama’s reform into law. And they’d generally ignore those elements when taking the fight to their Democrat opponents as November approaches.
“There is non-controversial stuff here like the preexisting conditions exclusion and those sorts of things,” the Texas Republican said. “Now we are not interested in repealing that. And that is frankly a distraction.”
What the GOP will work to repeal, Cornyn explained, are provisions that result in “tax increases on middle class families,” language that forced “an increase in the premium costs for people who have insurance now” and the “cuts to Medicare” included in the legislation.
Cornyn’s comments were called a “folly” by National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who said that “without perhaps realizing it, Cornyn has come out for tinkering at the edges of Obamacare.” Cornyn was also criticized on RedState. In response, Cornyn released a statement attempting to placate the full repealers:
Some media outlets have misrepresented my position on repealing and replacing the President’s $2.6 trillion health care bill. Make no mistake about it: I fully support repealing this Washington takeover of health care and replacing it with a bipartisan bill that lowers the cost of health care.
Republicans have long pointed out that there are areas of health care reform where there is bipartisan agreement. Yet, instead of working with Republicans to solve issues of bipartisan concern such as pre-existing condition exclusions, Democrats insisted on a purely partisan bill that included massive tax hikes, trillions of dollars in new taxpayer spending, and cuts to Medicare, while failing to address rising health care costs.
Cornyn’s statement hasn’t satisfied RedState’s Erick Erickson, who wrote that Cornyn had been “forced into renouncing his own words in favor of some mendacious messaging about bipartisan cooperation.” In another post, Erickson called on his readers to “send an army of conservatives to the Senate who will push back against John Cornyn.”