ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Though GOP efforts to repeal President Obama’s health care law is almost certainly set to fall short, Republicans are already plotting their next steps – and are planning to use power over the government’s purse strings to block much of the law from taking effect.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Rep. Steve King – a main co-sponsor of the repeal effort – told us that he’s not giving up on the possibility that the Senate will also repeal the law, as the House is planning to do this week.
That means a new Republican president could sign “the repeal of Obamacare as one of the first acts of his new presidency,” in 2013, King said.
In the meantime, he said, Republicans can attack the law by cutting off funds for its implementation:
“We can bring about, in effect, a full repeal by just stopping the funding,” said King, R-Iowa. “It stops the collection of taxes and it stops, well, it stops the expenditure of the money and it stops the enforcement.”
But without a repeal, he said, “it will grow back on us like a malignant tumor would grow back on us. So I want to pull it all out by the roots.”
While Republicans are promising to replace the current law with a more piecemeal approach that would include reforms to the insurance market, King said he’s willing to tell those helped by the current law that they’d be out of luck.
“I'm willing to do that -- I'm willing to say we can't afford it. They all know we can't afford it,” King said.
With attention focused on political rhetoric in the wake of the Tucson shooting, King defended recent comments where he said the health care law is the result of an “irrational Leftist lust for socialized medicine.”
“The word 'lust' is more associated with the word love than it is violence. So I didn't think that that was an irrational comment at all, I just thought that it described the scenario that we're in,” King said. “And I have an irrational lust to love the Constitution and a fiscal responsibility in individualism. So I don’t think, I don’t think that’s sharp rhetoric.”
“I've been called a lot of names on the floor of the House of Representatives, and I do think we have a responsibility to tone that part of it down. But I do not think that the anomalous tragedy in Tucson has relevance to the political dialogue here, and I do not think there's any evidence to that effect.”
King also dismissed efforts by Democrats and some prominent Republicans to send a signal by sitting with colleagues from the opposite side of the aisle.
He joked that he may choose the seat Justice Samuel Alito will leave vacant next week, after the president chided Alito and his Supreme Court colleagues at last year’s event. And he suggested that having the parties intermingle is an effort to “choreograph” standing ovations that look broader than they actually will be.
“There’s a real American art to watching a State of the Union address, and it’s important to see who leads the ovations, who sits down, who doesn't applaud, who does,” King said. “There's a whole science to that. And I wouldn't scramble the whole thing if we went and counted 1, 2, 1, 2, and sat down in an even balance on the floor.”
Watch the segment with Rep. Steve King HERE.
We also checked in with The Hill’s Sam Youngman about Democratic efforts to defend the health care law – and the dangers for Republicans in the current debate over repeal.
Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE.