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Lindsey Graham Admits He Had No Idea What He Was Doing on Obamacare Repeal

"I thought everybody else knew what the hell they were talking about, but apparently not."

Susan  Rinkunas

Susan Rinkunas

Getty Images

The last-ditch bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was referred to as "Graham-Cassidy" after the two Senators who introduced it: Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana. (The bill, which was even crueler than previous Senate efforts, failed on Tuesday.) Graham considers himself a national security expert. Cassidy is a former doctor, and however hypocritical his actions and misleading his statements on healthcare were, that at least means he has some idea of how healthcare works. Right? Grimace face?

Well, yesterday, The Intercept posted audio of an interview with Graham in which he not only admitted that he had no idea what he was doing, but that he was also far from confident in his Republican colleagues.

Graham told reporters on Tuesday that working on this bill has "been the most amazing journey of my life. I've taken the eye off the ball on terrorism, I'm just amazed the whole planet hasn't crumbled because I wasn't on it. I've enjoyed this more than anything. I've learned so much about healthcare in other states."

He went on to say: "Nobody in our conference believes Obamacare is gonna work; it must be replaced. But until now, we really didn't know how to do it." (This comes at 5:58 in the audio.) When pressed on how Republicans hadn't figured out an amenable solution in the seven years since Obamacare passed, Graham said: "Well, I've been doing it for about a month. I thought everybody else knew what the hell they were talking about, but apparently not," adding that he thought "these really smart people will figure it out."

Graham said the idea for the bill came from a barber shop conversation with former Senator Rick Santorum, who also focused on foreign policy. Graham said Santorum pitched the idea like so:

He says, "you know, you've got an opt-out bill—opt out of Obamacare if you don't like it, take the money and do state-controlled systems. Why don't you do what we did with welfare reform in '96, which is basically take the same amount of money and block grant it?"

Because letting states opt out, which essentially allows insurance companies to decide which health benefits and which people to cover, worked out so well before Obamacare.

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