Corker: Repeal won’t happen after this election cycle 

John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and most Republicans say that the GOP platform is to repeal Obamacare (or “repeal and replace it with real reform”). Yuval Levin argues in this week’s issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD that “nothing short of repeal could suffice,” and Sean Trende offers four reasons why repeal is realistic. So it’s not surprising that Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee caught some flack for apparently breaking from conservatives when he recently said of repeal: “The fact is that’s not going to happen, OK.”

But Corker tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that he was specifically talking about efforts to repeal the health care law in 2011. “I think a lot of people are talking about this election cycle generating results that will repeal it,” Corker says. “It’s an issue as simple math. I mean as long as Obama’s [president], it takes 67 votes in the Senate for that to occur.”

As for efforts to fully repeal the bill after the 2012 election, Corker says, “I certainly hope we end up with a Republican president, I certainly hope we end up with majorities on both sides [of Congress]. … I guess we’re saying the same thing. I mean surely people aren’t going to be waiting on their hands for the prospect that something might occur in 2012, which we all hope happens, okay?” So if Corker runs for reelection in 2012, will he pledge to repeal Obamacare and replace it with real reform? “I try not to get into mottos,” he says. “To me, the challenge is what do we do now?”

One issue Corker thinks that Republicans should take aim at before 2013 is the minimum benefits that the government will mandate every insurance policy to include. Corker says that one Tennessee businessman tells him that “these new mandates are going to cause them to spend $40 million more a year on health benefits.” So the businessman is now trying to decide whether to pay the additional $40 million or pay a much smaller fee and dump his employees into the public exchange.

“Repeal is not happening in 2011,” Corker says, “So what is it we can do as a country to keep this [law] from wreaking havoc?”

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