Sen. Orrin G. Hatch walked back his comments from last week that supporters of the 2010 health care law commonly known as “Obamacare” were “the stupidest, dumbass people” he had ever met.
The comment was “a poorly worded joke” that was “not reflective of my actual feelings towards my friends on the other side,” Hatch said in a statement Friday, NPR reported.
“While I occasionally slip up, I believe that my legislative record reflects my commitment to bipartisanship and civility much more than my flippant, off-the-cuff comment,” he said.
The 83-year-old Utah Republican, who is retiring at the end of his term next year, was delivering remarks about the GOP tax code overhaul at the American Enterprise Institute last Thursday when he shifted gears to torch the Affordable Care Act.
“[We] finally did away with the individual mandate tax that was established under that wonderful bill called Obamacare,” Hatch said. “Now, if you didn’t catch on, I was being very sarcastic. That was the stupidest, dumbass bill that I’ve ever seen.”
Same goes for the people who championed the law, he said.
“Some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest, dumbass people I’ve ever met,” Hatch added. “There are a lot of them up there on Capitol Hill from time to time.”
The new Republican tax law eliminated the individual mandate to have health coverage, a key feature of Obamacare.
Yet most Americans don’t know that the individual mandate was repealed, the latest Health Tracking Poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found.
Most American adults, 54 percent, have a favorable view of Obamacare, the same poll found.
The provision’s repeal is part of an eight-year GOP crusade to dismantle the ACA, which Republicans were unable to achieve last year despite controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has signaled that health care repeal will not be on the legislative agenda in 2018 after it failed to pass in a Senate chamber where Republicans held a two-seat advantage. When Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama defeated his GOP opponent in the Alabama Senate special election in December, the math became even more grim for Republicans.
“Well we obviously were unable to completely repeal and replace with a 52-48 Senate,” McConnell said in December. “We’ll have to take a look at what that looks like with a 51-49 Senate. But I think we’ll probably move on to other issues.”