GOP Health Care Split: Gregg Dismisses Repeal While DeMint Says Not Doing So Is ‘Giving Up On Our Country’

Republicans have made repealing the Affordable Care Act a central part of their governing agenda, including it in their “Pledge to America,” while Rep. Steve King (R-IA) has demanded “blood oath” that the law will be “ripped out completely, lock, stock and barrel – root and branch – no vestige left behind, not a DNA particle of Obamacare retained.”

In a new interview with Newsmax, far-right tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) — who vowed to make the defeat of health care reform President Obama’s “Waterloo” — echoed King, placing such importance on repealing the law that he said, “if we give up on repealing the health care bill, I think we’re giving up on our country”:

HOST: Do you think they’ll actually rescind the health care bill or stop the funding?

DEMINT: Well, I’ve to believe we can. If we give up on repealing the health care bill, I think we’re giving up on our country. I really believe this will destroy our health care system, I think it’ll bankrupt our country.

But despite claims of unity, not everyone in the GOP is on board. Outgoing Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) led the fight against the Affordable Care Act in the Senate, but during an appearance on Fox Business last night, Gregg — who has proposed a health bill that’s similar to what Democrats passed in March — said, “I don’t think starving or repeal is probably the best approach here.” He endorsed some Medicare cuts in the law and conceded that repealing it could allow insurers to continue increasing premiums:

CAVUTO: Would you repeal it or as John Boehner has indicated, starve it?

GREGG: I don’t think starving or repeal is probably the best approach here.

Watch DeMint’s and Gregg’s comments:

As The Hill notes, this statement is a shift for Gregg, who has previously supported the GOP’s repeal and replace strategy. “Our view is, you repeal and replace this bill,” Gregg said on CNN in March. “You replace it with better law and better approaches towards healthcare.” He also said on CNBC as recently as last month that using the budget reconciliation process to repeal major parts of healthcare reform would be an option, too.

But there seems to be a growing recognition among more moderate GOP lawmakers and candidates that repealing the entire law, especially popular parts that have already gone into effect, such as letting children stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, is a bad idea politically and substantively. For example, during a debate Friday, Ohio GOP House candidate Steve Stivers said the Affordable Care Act does “some things right” and should not be repealed, but rather “fixed.” Even tea party-backed House candidate Allen West said there are parts that are “good and I agree with.” Meanwhile, as ThinkProgress has noted, 7 of the GOP’s health care ideas in their “Pledge to America” are actually already included in the Affordable Care Act.