Mitch McConnell at CPAC: We Lost on Obamacare

J.K. Trotter
The Atlantic Wire

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has some news for Paul Ryan and House Republicans: Obamacare is here to stay. The Kentucky Senator, famous for declaring his party's narrow intent to make Barack Obama a "one-term president," veered from his colleagues' long-held stance that undoing the Affordable Care Act — a.k.a Obamacare — is politically feasible, even after the package passed in March 2010, was upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2012, and its namesake was re-elected on November 6. "When it came to Obamacare, we gave it everything we have, everything we have, and we just lost," McConnell told his audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday morning. Still, he reiterated his opposition to the legislation: "Obamacare should be repealed root and branch." So maybe Ryan, who assumed the repeal of the health-care laws in his 2013 House GOP budget, will have that to hang his hat on.

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Continuing on that theme, the Republican leader assailed Obamacare for introducing an array of new regulations. For the duration of his CPAC speech he was flanked by a large stack of paper that, McConnell said, represented the legislation's onerous requirements. To McConnell, the stack represented his party's stance toward progressive legislation. "If there were ever a symbol of what we're fighting against, this tower is it," he said, pointing to the sheets of paper, which had been wheeled onstage using a dolly.

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McConnell is the latest GOP leader to admit that repealing Obamacare is unlikely. Two days after President Obama was reelected, House Speaker John Boehner admitted that the legislation is "the law of the land," though he continues to indulge the wish of House Republicans to vote for a repeal. (The last House vote to repeal took place last week, and promptly failed in the Senate.) Other leaders, such as former Ryan, have yet to be persuaded: on Tuesday he introduced a federal budget which depends on the dismantling of Obamacare. Below, you can watch Fox News host Chris Matthews try to convince Ryan that undoing Obamacare is "not going to happen":

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