Speaking with The Hill at his office in the Senate Russell Building, Braun described the GOP’s push to repeal ObamaCare without a plan of their own as one of the primary reasons for the Democratic wave election in 2018.
“What was it, about 55 House seats?,” Braun said. Republicans lost 40 seats in the 2018 midterm election and Democrats earned a majority in the House for the first time since 2011.
The freshman senator is worried that Republicans are in for a repeat performance in 2020.
“The whole repeal thing hurts our case about what we’re going to replace it with … [Democrats] have owned the issue pretty well because of the void we’ve created,” Braun said.
Republicans campaigned in 2016 on repealing and replacing ObamaCare. Voters gave Republicans control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, but GOP efforts to repeal the law were a legislative debacle and a political disaster.
“We weren’t prepared with a comprehensive alternative,” Braun said. “We’ve been apologists for the industry.”
President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: Presidential candidates should be required to release tax returns Hillary Clinton says Assange must ‘answer for what he has done’ after arrest Herman Cain expected to withdraw from consideration for Fed: report MORE reignited the debate earlier this month when his administration backed a legal effort to dismantle ObamaCare.
Meanwhile, some 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are going all in behind “Medicare for all.”
Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks ‘not my thing’ | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders welcomes fight with Trump over ‘Medicare for all’ | DOJ attorney in ObamaCare case leaving | NYC mayor defends vaccination mandate | Ohio gov signs ‘heartbeat’ abortion bill Former DNC chairman endorses Buttigieg for president MORE (I), a leading contender for the Democratic nomination, unveiled a revamped “Medicare for all” bill this week that has the backing of four Senate Democrats who are also running for president.
Braun believes a government-run health care system would be a colossal failure and could bankrupt the country.
But he warned that the proposal could catch on, both for the simplicity of the “Medicare for all” slogan and because the Democrats will be selling it to the public every day between now and the election.
“Democrats are selling something so simple,” Braun said.
“It’s going to resonate everywhere because if you don’t have a credible alternative … we’re going to be probably stumbling around in 2020,” he said.
Their work is still in the very early stages.
Braun says the goal is to at least have the pillars of a plan in place before the 2020 election.
But he said any proposal would have to include the most popular provisions in ObamaCare, including coverage for pre-existing conditions and an allowance for children to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26.
“We better be putting something together but we’re not ready now and we can’t just leave a void, that you’ll see the details post-election, or we’ll pay the price for it,” Braun said.
“Before 2020 we need to get the principles in place so we can compare it to something concrete rather than just making promises,” he added. “And we need to get rid of the idea of just repealing. A lot of Obamacare is proven that it can’t work because of the cost of it. But the tenants, pre-existing conditions coverage, kids on the plan until you’re 26, that has to stay.”
The comments come after Trump said the GOP would become “the party of health care.” But the president also indicated that any legislation would be brought up for a vote after the election in 2020.
Braun said the 2020 presidential contest is lining up to be a “nailbiter.”
Still, he’s optimistic Trump will hold on to his gains in the Rust Belt and Midwest states that propelled his surprising journey to the White House.
Braun, the former president and CEO of a successful auto parts business, said the economy would be a major asset for Republicans in 2020.
“I think it’s going to frighten a lot of people,” he said. “It won’t fly in Indiana. I don’t think it will fly in places like Michigan, Wisconsin or even Pennsylvania, where it was looking pretty good for the other side before that.”
Trump and Vice President Pence, the former governor of Indiana, made several trips in 2018 to the Hoosier State to campaign for Braun, who went on to defeat former Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying World Lobbying World Overnight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency’s ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down MORE (D).
Braun said he’s eager to return the favor by campaigning for the president’s reelection bid in 2020. Trump won Indiana by a hefty margin in 2016.
Could there be another Indiana politician on the ticket on the Democratic side?
South Bend Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFormer DNC chairman endorses Buttigieg for president Poll shows Buttigieg in third behind Biden, Sanders in Iowa Poll: Biden has double-digit lead over Dem field in Iowa MORE has shown surprising strength in the early going, raising $7 million and moving into the upper tier of candidates behind Sanders and former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenMcConnell: Pelosi dealing with her own liberal ‘Freedom Caucus’ Former DNC chairman endorses Buttigieg for president Will Biden lead a ‘return to normalcy’ in 2020? MORE in the polls.
“I think he is simply a result of what frustrates voters across the country, they’re looking for something different and Pete is in the limelight because he’s definitely not a farm system politician,” Braun said. “He’s an outsider, I was an outsider, we saw how that worked in Indiana.”
Buttigieg, who is gay, has been criticizing Pence for his record on LGBT issues. Braun said Pence has a “strong” reputation in the Midwest and warned Buttigieg against picking a fight with him.
“That’s kind of risky business for Pete if he wants to climb the ladder into being in contention, if you want to do well in the Midwest,” Braun said.
“I think Pete … can’t be too closely aligned with Bernie Sanders,” he added. “He’d be a young Bernie. Maybe that’ll be his nickname. I’m sure there will be nicknames for the opponents.
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