Senate Republican leadership has been at pains to warn Democrats that they will campaign on a pledge to repeal health care reform if the House passes the Senate’s legislation. But today, NRSC chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) admitted that repeal will likely be impossible, even if the GOP retakes Congress in the fall.
“Whether you want to call it repeal, or whether you want to call it a referendum I don’t think makes a dime’s worth of difference,” Cornyn told me in a brief interview in the Senate hallway. “I think the point we’re trying to make, and I think those who are talking about repeal are trying to make, is that this will be the issue that will define the November election.”Cornyn has tried to paper over the differences between repeal and referendum before, so I asked whether voters would punish Republicans if they failed to deliver on a promise of repeal. He said they’d be forgiving.
“I don’t think so, because obviously we don’t have the White House, we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate,” Cornyn said. “As a practical matter that will be an obstacle. But I think certainly they will know what our goal is–to stop this bill–and that’s really my first choice is to stop it before we talk about repeal.”
Just because Republicans stand almost no chance of repealing health care reform, though, doesn’t mean they won’t pretend otherwise on the campaign trail. And the fact that they’d be hard pressed to actually carry out a full repeal is fairly obvious in an inside baseball sense. But it’s good to have that on the record.