This morning, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation to discuss the latest version of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The questions from host John Dickerson zeroed in on a New York Times story published Friday that quotes Gardner, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), bluntly telling fellow Republicans that they need to get in line on repealing the ACA in order to appease angry donors:
As more than 40 subdued Republican senators lunched on Chick-fil-A at a closed-door session last week, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado painted a dire picture for his colleagues. Campaign fund-raising was drying up, he said, because of widespread disappointment among donors over the inability of the Republican Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act or do much of anything else.
Mr. Gardner is in charge of his party’s midterm re-election push, and he warned that donors of all stripes were refusing to contribute another penny until the struggling majority produced some concrete results.
“Donors are furious,” one person knowledgeable about the private meeting quoted Mr. Gardner as saying. “We haven’t kept our promise.”
…They said Mr. Gardner did not specifically urge approval of the so-called Graham-Cassidy health proposal that Republicans were considering bringing to the Senate floor next week. He was seen as speaking more generally and mainly looking forward to the coming debate over tax cuts…Gardner told his colleagues that a major Colorado contributor who played a role in his own campaign says party donors are reluctant to give any more money until congressional Republicans demonstrate results. [Pols emphasis]
In today’s appearance, Gardner repeatedly denies that this last-minute push to pass legislation repealing Obamacare had anything to do with donor pressure, despite donors being the principal focus of Gardner’s remarks to fellow Senators in the above NYT story. Gardner makes no attempt to explain the quotes attributed to him–he just denies that what they’re doing has anything to do “with donors” and reverts to the same script of anti-Obamacare taking points he has employed for years. Just as important, Gardner tacitly expresses support for the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill over and over, seriously undermining his repeated claims to local reporters last week that he is undecided on the bill.
And at 0:57 into the video above, Gardner makes a critical mistake in his rote talking points:
GARDNER: Half a million people in Colorado lost their health insurance–had their insurance plans cancelled, excuse me, [Pols emphasis] because they were told it wasn’t good enough…
In this statement, Gardner implicitly lets slip the fact that half a million people in Colorado did not “lose their health insurance” under the Affordable Care Act. There was a period of turnover in policies after the ACA took effect, with the overwhelming majority of Coloradans who received alleged “cancellation notices” in fact straightforwardly renewing their policies to updated versions that met the ACA’s required standards. The rate of uninsured in Colorado has dropped to record lows under the ACA, which is totally at odds with the misleading impression Gardner wants to leave by claiming these policies were “cancelled.” But Gardner cannot accurately state that “half a million people in Colorado lost their health insurance,” which he nearly did–and with that his whole case begins to fall apart. We’ve been saying this for years.
The fact that Gardner is plainly supportive of not just Graham-Cassidy in today’s interview, but every attempt to repeal the the Affordable Care Act he has had the chance to vote for, shows that every time he claimed this past week to be undecided when questioned by local reporters he’s been lying. If Graham-Cassidy does make it to a vote by the full Senate, which is less likely after John McCain came out against the bill late last week, the odds of Gardner voting “no” hover somewhere in the neighborhood of 0%–and anything less than a acknowledgement of that by Gardner at this point is an insult to everyone’s intelligence.
Not the first, though. Most of what we saw today was not new.