Ousted Eric Cantor admits Obamacare repeal battle cry was a ruse to win elections

What if Republicans were never really serious about repealing Obamacare?

Former Republican House majority leader Eric Cantor revealed that though the GOP banged the drum of repealing Obamacare for years, he “never believed” it was going to happen.

“To give the impression that if Republicans were in control of the House and Senate, that we could do that when Obama was still in office . . . .” the former Virginia congressman told the Washingtonian,  shaking his head. “I never believed it.”

Cantor was at the forefront of the charge to repeal former President Obama’s signature policy, making the hot button issue a central part of the GOP rhetoric. Supporters were promised that if and when Republicans ruled the Senate and House, they would get the job done.

But Cantor, who was defeated in his 2014 primary by unknown economics professor Dave Brat, seemed to admit the GOP battle-cry was just a charade.

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According to the Washingtonian:

Cantor helped create that perception. Earlier that summer—after many failed attempts over the years to shred the law piecemeal—Cantor promised colleagues that the House would vote on a “full repeal.” But even after it did, the measure was dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Cantor—in Congress 13 years and, fairly or unfairly, once thought to be above electoral reproach—paid the price. His 2014 avenger, now-congressman David Brat, bludgeoned him for being soft on Obamacare, among other things. But the failure to make a dent in the law landed a bigger blow on the party. After seven years of pledging they could dismantle Obamacare, if only they had control of Congress and the White House, Republicans—at last in charge of both—have faced deep divisions over a replacement.

Asked if he feels partly responsible for their current predicament, Cantor is unequivocal. “Oh,” he says, “100 percent.”

 

But the 54-year-old was apparently not the only one aware of the alleged ruse.

“We sort of all got what was going on, that there was this disconnect in terms of communication, because no one wanted to take the time out in the general public to even think about ‘Wait a minute—that can’t happen.’ ” he said.

“If you’ve got that anger working for you, you’re gonna let it be,” he added.

Cantor is currently managing director of Moelis & Company, a boutique investment firm in New York and sits on the board of several companies. This new perspective helps him see the political gamesmanship for what it was.

“There’s something about the deliberateness and the thoughtfulness involved,” he said about deal-making in the private sector. “That’s not necessarily how politics works. It’s a lot more extreme and back and forth.”

Cantor admitted that, if given the chance to re-do his time as a member of the party leadership, he wouldn’t have bought into this “expectation . . . that says if it’s not everything, then it can’t be conservative.”

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“That’s a perspective I’ve gained,” he said.

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Frieda Powers

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