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McConnell: GOP Would 'Start Over' on Obamacare Repeal, the 'One Disappointment of This Congress'

President Donald Trump listens as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks at a rally at Alumni Coliseum in Richmond, Ky., on Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants to take another stab at repealing Obamacare, causing Democrats to argue that’s a promise working in favor of their party three weeks before midterm elections.

McConnell told Reuters that Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act — a long-standing GOP promise — was “the one disappointment of this Congress from a Republican point of view.”

“If we had the votes to completely start over, we’d do it. But that depends on what happens in a couple weeks,” he said. “…We’re not satisfied with the way Obamacare is working.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) fired back in a statement, “Americans should make no mistake about it: if Republicans retain the Senate they will do everything they can to take away families’ healthcare and raise their costs, whether it be eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions, repealing the healthcare law, or cutting Medicare and Medicaid.”

“Americans should take Senator McConnell at his word,” he added.

Congress is in recess to allow lawmakers time to hit the campaign trail. There are 35 Senate seats on the ballot Nov. 6.

The Treasury Department reported this week that the budget deficit in fiscal year 2018 was $779 billion, a $113 billion jump from the previous year. When McConnell became majority leader in fiscal year in fiscal year 2015, the deficit was $439 billion.

“The president is very much aware of the realities presented by our national debt. America’s booming economy will create increased government revenues – an important step toward long-term fiscal sustainability,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “But this fiscal picture is a blunt warning to Congress of the dire consequences of irresponsible and unnecessary spending.”

McConnell told Bloomberg on Tuesday that he sees little chance of a deficit-reduction deal, which is “disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem.”

“It’s a bipartisan problem: unwillingness to address the real drivers of the debt by doing anything to adjust those programs to the demographics of America in the future,” he said.

Those programs are Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. “I think it’s pretty safe to say that entitlement changes, which is the real driver of the debt by any objective standard, may well be difficult if not impossible to achieve when you have unified government,” McConnell said.

The GOP leader noted that President Obama “was a very smart guy, understood exactly what the problem was, understood divided government was the time to do it, but didn’t want to, because it was not part of his agenda.”

“I think it would be safe to say that the single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue, and it’s a shame, because now the Democrats are promising ‘Medicare for all,”’ he added. “I mean, my gosh, we can’t sustain the Medicare we have at the rate we’re going and that’s the height of irresponsibility.”

Schumer responded in a statement that Republicans “blew a $2 trillion hole in the federal deficit to fund a tax cut for the rich” and “to now suggest cutting earned middle-class programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid as the only fiscally responsible solution to solve the debt problem is nothing short of gaslighting.”

“As November approaches, it’s clear Democrats stand for expanding affordable healthcare and growing the middle class, while Republicans are for stripping away protections for people with pre-existing conditions and cutting Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid to fund their giveaways to corporate executives and the wealthiest few,” the Senate Dem leader added.