ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports: If health-care legislation makes it through Congress and is signed into law by President Obama, Republicans are going to face a big choice between accommodation and repudiation.
The GOP will have to decide in the years ahead if it wants to accept the program with minor modifications or whether it wants to try to dismantle it.
Although Republican senators have been extremely united in their opposition to Obama’s health-care overhaul as it has moved through the legislative process, it is not yet clear how the GOP will approach the “repeal” question if the president’s top domestic priority makes it into law.
The GOP’s uncertainty on this issue was evidenced on Wednesday by Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming.
Barrasso, a leading Republican voice on health-care reform who is one of only two U.S. senators who has practiced medicine, sidestepped the repeal question twice while appearing on ABCNews.com’s “Top Line.”
Asked if he wants Republican Senate candidates to advocate repeal in 2010, Barrasso called the bill an “historic mistake” for the country but did not say whether Republicans should promise to dismantle the program if they retain power in Congress.
“”You used a word earlier that it’s going to be an ‘historic’ vote, and I think it’s going to be a historic mistake for the country if this is what happens to health care,” said Barrasso. “Now, as you know, the changes don’t actually go into place until four years from now so people aren’t going to be able to see immediately what the problems are. But they are going to notice the cuts in Medicare and, specifically, the increased taxes which go into effect the day that this bill is signed into law.”
Watch the interview with Barrasso HERE.
Asked a second time if he wants Republicans to campaign on a “repeal” message in 2010, Barrasso once again dodged the question and instead voiced his concern about the federal budget deficit.
“The message should be ‘the debt is the threat,’” said Barrasso. “That is the problem with our nation right now.”
Appearing on ABC’s “Top Line” after Barrasso, Politico’s Jonathan Martin predicted that Republicans would divide on the repeal question in next year’s midterm elections.
“I think you’re going to see a split in the party on it,” said Martin. “There certainly are going to be some elements that are emphatically campaigning on a repeal but I think that’s probably not going to be a part of the party platform because there are going to be some who don’t want to be tagged with that ‘party of no’ rap. They’re going to want to be the ‘party of reform ‘-- ‘let’s improve it.’ Now, that said, in some places in this country, certainly Red States -- places like Wyoming come to mind -- an out-and-out campaign of ‘let’s repeal it’ will certainly play well.”
Watch the analysis of Jonathan Martin HERE.
Appearing on ABC’s “Top Line” from Capitol Hill, Barrasso sharply criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, saying that the Nevada Democrat has stifled debate on the Senate floor.
“I brought 19 amendments to improve it and I didn’t even get a chance to offer them after Harry Reid brought his 383-page amendment and said, ‘this is it, take it or leave it,’” said Barrasso.
Barrasso, who brought four of his 19 amendments to the floor on Sunday, would not say if he would be voting for final passage even if they had been adopted.
Democrats tightly controlled the offering of amendments because they concluded that Republicans, who favor a radically different, mandate-free approach to health care, were more interested in stopping Obama’s overhaul than in winning passage of minor modifications.
With the Senate scheduled to vote on health-care reform at 8:00 am ET on Christmas Eve, Barrasso suggested that Democratic members of Congress should talk to their constituents about health-care reform during the holiday break.
“Now is the time for Americans all across this country to go face-to-face with their members of Congress . . . to say, ‘If this bill does pass the Senate, that they should vote against it in the House’ . . . because it does increase taxes, it does cut Medicare by huge amounts, and it’s going to cause … premiums to go up.”
ABC News’ Whitney Kuhn contributed to this report.