In 25 Seconds, Mitch McConnell Reveals Everything Wrong with Trumpcare

Aaron Rupar

Aaron Rupar Journalist, Think Progress

“The reason the American people didn’t accept this health care bill is ’cause they knew it had no bipartisan support, in addition to the fact that it was an awful proposal cooked up behind closed doors with a whole lot of special deals.”

You might think that quote comes from a Democratic member of Congress talking about the American Health Care Act (AHCA), but it doesn’t — it’s actually Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sounding off on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during an MSNBC interview back in January 2010.

In one 25-second video clip, McConnell managed to touch on all the things people find objectionable about the process Republicans are using to push the AHCA — a bill being drafted being closed doors, without Democratic input, and reportedly featuring “special deals” meant to make it palatable for conservative Republicans who, as an article of faith, object to any redistribution of wealth.

“Everything about it turned the American people off — that’s not the way to operate,” McConnell continued. “The president ought to take this as a message to recalibrate how he wants to govern, and if he wants to govern in the middle, I think we’ll be happy to meet him there.”

McConnell’s criticism of the ACA was unfair — the major parts of the bill passed through regular order after 160 hours of debate on the Senate floor, and it ultimately included 171 Republican amendments.

By contrast, Republicans are racing to force a vote on the AHCA next week, despite the fact that the bill — which has been worked on primarily by an all-male group of Republican senators — still hasn’t been released for public scrutiny. Not only have Democrats not seen it or had the chance to provide input, but a number of Republican senators and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price have admitted they haven’t seen it either.

McConnell’s video clip isn’t the only instance of him blasting the ACA process that is regrettable for him and his party in hindsight.

And he’s far from alone.

While public approval of the ACA remains solidly above 50 percent, the AHCA is deeply unpopular; Fox News recently covered a poll showing that only 17 percent of American approve of it. That’s not surprising, given that the Senate version of the bill is reportedly shaping up to be an even harsher version of the House bill that would result in 23 million people losing their health insurance.

But the secretive process McConnell and other Republicans decried in 2010 has a purpose now that they’re pushing their own health care bill. By keeping the circle of people who have knowledge of the AHCA tight, McConnell is giving “moderate” Republican senators cover to criticize the process while not having to answer questions about the bill’s substance or announce whether they plan to vote for it.