Lamar Alexander: Peacemaker in fight over repealing Obamacare?

Under the headline “The stealth Republican force behind Obamacare repeal,” Politico reviews Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s “deliberate, bipartisan approach’ to health care legislation, “preaching patience as much of the GOP demands quick action.”

An excerpt:

The folksy Tennessee senator is quietly prevailing upon Republican lawmakers to take a deep breath when it comes to rewriting the health care law that controls a sixth of the American economy. His goal, in a nutshell: to reassure millions of Americans that Republicans aren’t trying to snatch away their health insurance.

His message: As long as we’re smart and deliberate, it will all be fine. It might take awhile, but we got this.

“There are a lot of generals in this administration … they’re taught in the war college to think it all the way through,” Alexander says. “We ought to do that as we try to repair the damage caused by Obamacare. We need to think all the way through to the end.”

Tamping down expectations about a quick fix — let alone delivering a solution — is a monumental task, of course. It’s one Alexander is most comfortable leading in private. If there’s a softer side to Republicans’ plans to gut the law, it’s best represented by Alexander, a lawmaker who so loves cutting a deal that he voluntarily left the top ranks of Republican leadership to better work with Democrats.

A former governor and two-time presidential candidate, Alexander stalks the halls of the Capitol with a small card filled with bullet points about the health care law, pressing it into the hands of Republicans to alert them to the scope of the problems with the nation’s insurance coverage. Just as he ran for governor by walking across the state in his trademark black-and-red checked flannel shirt, Alexander’s goal is to buttonhole enough GOP lawmakers until the whole party is on the same page.

It hasn’t been easy. Daily Senate Republican lunches regularly erupt in disagreement over strategy; it’s now mid-February without a clear path forward, after years of Republican show votes to repeal the law.

Which is fine by Alexander.

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