North Carolina GOP Senate frontrunner Thom Tillis walked back his remark that Obamacare is “great idea that can’t be paid for,” which was unearthed on Tuesday.
The comment was seized on by Democratic operatives seeking to re-elect vulnerable Sen. Kay Hagan (D), as well as Tillis’ conservative primary opponent, Greg Brannon. Tillis’ top aide didn’t exactly disown the remark, but before the damage could escalate, he insisted that the candidate opposes Obamacare and his words were taken “extremely out of context.”
“Speaker Tillis was referring to the fact that Obamacare is like so many other ideas that come from Washington that include big promises but no way to pay for them,” Tillis’ campaign manager, Jordan Shaw, told TPM in an email. “Democrats think Obamacare is a great idea, but they offer no way to pay for it, and they don’t mind driving up costs for people who have good coverage. When Washington doesn’t pay for an idea, it’s a bad idea, no matter what promises they include. That’s what he meant by his comments in their entirety and context, and it is obvious when reading the full comment and judging Speaker Tillis’ track record of opposition to Obamacare.”
Obamacare’s spending provisions are funded with a variety of tax increase on upper earners and cuts to Medicare providers and insurers, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Opposition to the law is a litmus test for many conservative voters.
Tillis’ full remark that caused the storm: “I think there’s a lot of things we can do if we focus on a systemic approach to eliminating the bad, and the majority of the stuff that is in Obamacare is bad, because it’s not fiscally sustainable. It’s a great idea that can’t be paid for.”
Tillis, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, is the GOP establishment favorite to become the Republican nomination for Senate.