Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell

This paragraph from Sam Stein is either amusing or unsettling, depending on how one’s sense of humor is feeling today:

The Huffington Post asked the McConnell campaign that very question the day after the debate. We asked the campaign the same question twice more that day. Then, we posed the question to them seven more times over the subsequent nine days. We also called the campaign twice. The campaign never responded.

The story here is simple; a bit over two weeks ago, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faced his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes in the only debate of the Kentucky race for U.S. Senate. During the debate, Mr. McConnell called for the end of the PPACA. Except Kynect, the Kentucky health care exchange, has been quite successful, so the question arose whether the senior Kentucky senator would destroy that, too. “The website can continue,” McConnell explained.

Questions arose immediately as to what that statement actually meant in terms of practical function; without the rest of the ACA, Kynect would be generally useless, an advertising portal for a private market sector infamous for finding ways to renege on its contracts in order to increase its bottom line by refusing to fulfill its obligations. Without some detail to the other, this is what Sen. McConnell seems to have told Kentucky: You can have the damn website, but you’re screwed, anyway. Vote for me!

One might be tempted to think persistent questions from press and public pushed Team Mitch to find an answer. Split the difference; they found a punch line.

It is about what you would expect:

McConnell’s Senate office did, however, extend the courtesy of a reply. And the answer was fairly straightforward. A spokesman for the minority leader confirmed that he wants to repeal the full health care law, including not just the federal subsidies for people purchasing on exchanges like Kynect, but also the mandates and taxes on high-cost plans and other features of the legislation.

The office added, however, that McConnell doesn’t want to simply leave it at full repeal. He wants to replace the Obamacare model, a “broken system,” as the aide put it, with “common-sense reforms that would lower costs for Americans.” It remains to be determined what that replacement would be.

Exactly. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his team apparently spent that much time formulating a response that means exactly nothing.

And the idea of answering a question by not actually saying anything is an American political art; but that is also the point. Really? It took them how long to come up with that. Come on, that should be reflexive.

There is, of course, a counterpoint one might suggest, that McConnell hoped to duck the point long enough while eventually being able to say he answered it. But any gamble to keep something out of the headlines has at least an equal chance of pushing the issue to the fore. The problem there becomes a headline that is no longer in your control, and that is dangerous.

Still, though, it should not take so long to tally up the differences between possible routes; these are seasoned, professional political hands. And they already know they might as well use one of those hands to flip a coin, instead.

Still, there has to be something else. Right? Because it cannot really be that it took them so long to craft a zen cream puff. I mean, really.



Stein, Sam. “Some Clarity On What Mitch McConnell Wants For Kentucky’s Obamacare Exchange”. The Huffington Post. 27 October 2014.

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