Murkowski Lacks Integrity on Repeal of ObamaCare

Anchorage, Alaska. August 9, 2010 — Senate Candidate Joe Miller today brushed off the Murkowski campaign’s charge that he is “lying” about Senator Murkowski’s position on the repeal of ObamaCare. “The Senator is charging me with lying, while she is the one trying to tell Alaskans she voted to repeal ObamaCare. This is not true. Further, she only signed on the bill to repeal ObamaCare one week ago. It took her four months and the scrutiny of campaign season to come to the decision most prominent conservative Senators (and some not so conservative) reached months ago right after ObamaCare passed. I’d like to say, ‘Welcome to the party.’ It is unfortunate that she continues to refuse accountability for her words and actions,” Miller said. “Clearly the Murkowski folks would rather engage in character assassination than talk about the Senator’s record. I don’t think Alaskans appreciate these kinds of desperate tactics.”

At issue is Murkowski’s own record on ObamaCare. She continues to run from her own record by attacking Miller for pointing out inconsistencies in her positions. She has now taken to the airwaves professing her ardent support for repeal of ObamaCare. But on March 30, 2010 (just six days after she claims to have voted to repeal ObamaCare on March 24, 2010) she said that “Repealing this is not the answer, in my opinion, because if you just repeal and you do nothing, we will not have addressed healthcare reform.” Is she claiming this was a “mischaracterization?” In the same KTUU clip, reporter Rhonda McBride said that Murkowski “now believes it should be viewed as a work in progress.” Did McBride also “mischaracterize” her record? Senator Murkowski has some explaining to do. Such a view is consistent with Murkowski’s remarks at an Anchorage Healthcare Town Hall on August 20, 2009. She said, “It’s not so much that the government run plan is in and of itself a bad thing . . . what we have to have is a government-run plan that actually works.” — Healthcare Town Hall Meeting, Anchorage on August 20, 2009 (starting at 0:29:50).
The Murkowski campaign is also claiming on the public airwaves that she voted to repeal ObamaCare. However, a closer look at the vote she is citing reveals that it was not actually an up or down vote on a repeal. It was a vote not to table a repeal amendment on March 24 (S.Amdt 3553, to H.R.4872), incidentally, a vote that she knew was certain to fail. In essence, it was a vote to keep consideration of the amendment open for discussion, rather than a vote for or against repeal. Further, it should be noted that the final reconciliation process was not even complete when the vote was taken. Murkowski’s protest that President Obama signed the takeover of healthcare into law on March 23, 2010 is a half-truth. ObamaCare was comprised of two different bills, the second of which containing the House-Senate reconciliation provisions did not pass until March 25, 2010. President Obama signed it into law on March 30, the very day Murkowski said “repealing it is not the answer in my opinion.”
Senator Murkowski also contests a statement Miller made in an article published March 4th in Human Events (“Joe Miller: The Real Conservative Deal”). The statement was: “she refused to vote to repeal ObamaCare; I would.” The thought that Miller was trying to convey is that she had failed to sign onto the bill offered by her fellow Senate Republican colleagues calling for the repeal of ObamaCare (S.3152, March 23, 2010). The Hill reported on July 5th that Senator Murkowski still did not back the repeal bill co-sponsored by many prominent Republicans, in contradiction to public statements professing she would repeal ObamaCare. After months of being challenged on her position on ObamaCare by Miller, and Election Day drawing closer, our campaign learned on July 30th, that Senator Murkowski decided to sign on the previous day. There had been no public announcement of which our campaign was aware concerning the Senator’s change of heart. Again, it should be noted that the bill was introduced on March 23 with several of her Republican colleagues as co-sponsors. The other co-sponsors signed on within a month of the bill’s introduction. Only Murkowski waited until late into the summer.
Additionally, Miller’s interview with Human Events took place earlier that week prior to the campaign being made aware of Senator Murkowski’s change of heart. If Miller had known the Senator had decided to sign on to the repeal bill, he would not have characterized her position has “refused to vote to repeal ObamaCare.” He would have said something like, “She flip-flopped on repealing ObamaCare,” or “She was against ObamaCare, before she was apparently for it (based on her KTUU statement), before she was against it.”
A timeline overview:
Mar 23, 2010 – President Obama signs Senate version of ObamaCare into law. Senator Jim DeMint introduces S.3152 calling for the repeal of ObamaCare. Senators John Cornyn, Tom Coburn, Jon Kyl are among several co-sponsors. Murkoski is not.
Mar 24, 2010 – During Senate debate of the House reconciliation bill, Senate votes to table Senator David Vitter’s amendment to repeal ObamaCare. Murkowski votes not to table the amendment, which if successful would have kept the issue alive, though not actually been an up or down vote on repealing ObamaCare.
Mar 25, 2010 – Senate passes House reconciliation bill that finalizes the ObamaCare bill (with a few more changes). On the same day, the House passes its reconciliation bill for the final time, by agreeing to Senate modifications.
Mar 30, 2010 – Obama signs reconciliation bill, creating the final ObamaCare law. Also, this is the day that Murkowski tells KTUU-TV that repealing ObamaCare is “not the answer.”
Apl 19, 2010 – Miller announces his candidacy for the United States Senate and begins to challenge Murkowski on her failure to support the repeal of ObamaCare.
Apl 20, 2010 – The last of the co-sponsors of DeMint’s repeal ObamaCare bill signs on (prior to Murkowski), among them is Senator John McCain making a total of 20 co-sponsors.  Murkoski still refuses to co-sponsor the bill.
July 5, 2010 – The Hill published the article, “Senate Bill to Repeal Health Reform Lacks Backing from Republican Leaders,” The Hill reports that Murkowski refused to comment on her position.
July 26, 2010 – Miller speaks with Jedediah Bila, reporter for Human Events. She follows up the phone interview with some written questions by email. Responses, including the “voted for” quote are sent 1:45am on July 30, 2010.
July 29, 2010 – Murkowski becomes co-sponsor of S.3152, the repeal ObamaCare bill, over four months after it was introduced and three months after the last of the previous co-sponsors. To the Miller campaign’s knowledge there is no media coverage concerning the Senator’s switch.
July 30, 2010 – The Miller campaign issues press release, “Miller Challenges Murkowski’s Good Faith on ObamaCare.” Anchorage talk radio personality Dan Fagan contacts the Murkowski campaign regarding the release and is told that Senator Murkowski is a cosponsor of the repeal bill; that the Miller campaign is wrong. The Miller campaign, on learning of Murkowski’s switch, issues a press release that afternoon, “Correction: Miller Challenges Murkowski’s Good Faith on ObamaCare.” Fagan says on air he feels that he was “duped” (listen here) by the Murkowski campaign because they failed to mention her position had only changed the day before. [Note: Fagan also mistakenly says that the Miller campaign’s original release charges that Murkowski was one of three Republican Senators that did not sign the repeal bill. His statement was inaccurate. Our release did not make that charge.]
In spite of the fact that the Senator became a repeal convert, at least in words, around the time Joe Miller entered the race on April 19th, her reticence to co-sponsor the actual repeal bill, S.3152, before public pressure was brought to bear on her, still raises questions about her commitment to repeal. The facts do not support the claim that Miller “lied” about Murkowski’s record. She has never voted to repeal ObamaCare; it took her months and the heat of this election season to decide to co-sponsor a bill that would do so.
Miller has repeatedly called for a true debate of the issues, so both sides would have a chance to make their views known and have them stand up to cross-examination by each other, the media, and the public. The Murkowski campaign did not respond to a Miller campaign challenge for such a true debate to be held in Anchorage on August 17th. “If she can’t stand up and defend her own record, how is she capable of ‘fighting for Alaska?’” said Miller.