GOP's strategy: Repeal and replace

WASHINGTON — Repeal the new health care overhaul and replace it with something better, says the Senate's top Republican, who led a solid wall of GOP opposition to the Democratic plan.

But Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell doesn't have the votes to overcome a certain veto by President Barack Obama of his top domestic priority, and the White House has said it would welcome a political fight with Republicans over repeal efforts.

McConnell said in his party's weekly radio and video address Saturday "nobody is satisfied with the health care system as it is." Costs are out of control, and "people are being squeezed out of the market."

The legislation Obama signed this past week doesn't solve those problems, McConnell contended, and undermines what is best about health care in this country — a wide range of medical options and innovations.

The main health care law and a companion "fix-it" measure aim to crack down on insurance industry abuses and to reduce federal deficits by an estimated $143 billion over a decade. Most Americans would be required to buy insurance for the first time or face penalties.

McConnell was emphasizing a new GOP political approach that proposes replacing the new health plan "with common-sense solutions," rather than just repealing it. Republicans say they can push for parts of the health care overhaul without adopting elements they don't like, such as tax increases.

"We can do better," he said. "We can expand access to people with pre-existing conditions. We can keep people from being kicked off their plans. We can lower costs and premiums. We can do all of these things without undermining the things we do best and without raising taxes that kill jobs in a bad economy."

McConnell said: "This bill hadn't even been law for 24 hours, and already they're proposing regulations to cover over mistakes and errors. And we haven't even seen the last of it."

Republicans want to appeal to tea party supporters and other conservatives upset at the size and scope of the legislation, while acknowledging that many people, including moderate Republicans and independents, want to see changes in the country's health care system.

A repeal is unlikely because Republicans are in the minority in both the House and Senate and would need a two-thirds majority to overcome a certain veto by Obama.