Walk Back Watch: McConnell Admits GOP Will ‘Probably Not’ Be Able To Undo The Entire Health Reform Law

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have been attempting to build a movement to repeal the measure. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Steve King (R-IA), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced gimmicky legislation to rescind the law, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said “[r]epeal and replace will be the slogan for the fall” election. Last week, he told Politico that he wants to “repeal the whole bill” and replace it with more modest reforms. But in his home state today, McConnell backtracked, admitting that Republicans will likely not be able to undo the entire law:

But he acknowledged there is “probably not” a chance of repealing the full measure while President Barack Obama is in office.

Speaking to a Louisville audience, McConnell said he is hopeful for GOP gains in the fall election, based partly on recent poll results.

“Will that make full repeal possible? It might not,” McConnell said at a forum sponsored by Greater Louisville Inc., the metro chamber of commerce.

McConnell’s acknowledgement reflects a growing trend of Republicans who are moving away from the repeal message after realizing that it would be almost impossible to carry out. Even if the GOP won enough seats in Congress, President Obama would almost certainly veto the effort to overturn his signature domestic policy item.


A number of leading Republicans have already said repeal is unlikely, and on MSNBC this morning, former Bush speech writer David Frum urged his fellow Republicans to “stop giving false promises of repeal.”

In addition to being unrealistic, repealing the entire bill would mean undoing popular provisions, like preventing insurance companies from denying people coverage with preexisting conditions. On Wednesday, Rep. Jack Kingston (R) — who co-sponsored two bills to “repeal and replace” the bill — told constituents, “There are a lot of things in this bill I think you and I certainly like.”