In 2010, while still a member of the House of Representatives, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., signed the Club for Growth’s “Repeal-It” pledge, which read: “I hereby pledge to the people of my district/state to sponsor and support legislation to repeal any federal health care takeover passed in 2010 …” That same year, he also co-sponsored the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.
On June 28, 2012, after being appointed to the Senate and in the midst of an election campaign, Heller issued a statement that then-President Barack Obama’s “job-killing healthcare law” was hurting Nevada families and businesses and declared that “This onerous law needs to be repealed and replaced.”
In a Facebook post a few days later, Heller wrote that “Step #1 for repealing ObamaCare is winning in November. Without the right leaders in Washington, we won't be able to repeal it.” And in a televised debate in September with his Democratic opponent, Heller said plainly, “We have to repeal this new healthcare bill, Obamacare.”
But in the time since, Heller has been anything but the reliable stalwart who made the above promises. When he has seen a political advantage in attacking Obamacare, he has done so; when the tide seems to be running against repeal, he has opposed it and pushed back against calls for repeal.
Just one month after his re-election, Heller declared unconditional surrender on Obamacare. Obamacare, he told the Las Vegas Sun in an interview, is "not going to be repealed. ... It’s not going to be substantially changed. President Obama got re-elected. Let’s move on.”
Less than a year later, "D.C. Dean" flip-flopped again. In a floor speech in July 2013, Sen. Heller referred to Obamacare as a “colossal monstrosity.” Two months later, he voiced support for efforts to defund portions of Obamacare, arguing “the law never should have been passed to begin with.” He even issued a statement on Sept. 27, 2013, that “I, like all of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, am and have been against Obamacare.”
But by April 2014, Heller had gone squishy once again.
According to a report in The Hill, Heller and other “anxious Senate Republicans” were worried that party leaders were “focusing too much this election year on Obamacare.” Heller was quoted as saying that “the Affordable Care Act is going to play in this election, but I don’t think it’s the main issue.”
In February 2015, after the elections were over, Heller signed on as a co-sponsor of the Senate’s ObamaCare Repeal Act, and in December voted for the House version in the full knowledge that the bill would be vetoed by then-President Obama. But with Donald Trump’s election, Republicans, who kept their majorities in both the House and Senate, now had a president ready, willing, and able to sign an Obamacare repeal bill.
This time, Heller's vote on Obamacare would actually count. And on June 23, 2017, Sen. Heller helped kill the bill when he announced in a joint press conference with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval that he “would not support it” because it included a rollback of Sandoval’s Medicaid expansion. “It's not the answer, it's simply not the answer," Heller said.
And so when it mattered, Heller voted against the exact same Obamacare repeal bill he had voted for in 2015, when he knew it wouldn't become law.
In the time since, thanks to the blowback he received for going against his word, Heller has piggybacked on a number of half-measures for repealing Obamacare without upsetting Sandoval, all of which have failed.
In the final analysis, “D.C. Dean” doesn't have any convictions for the positions he holds. He is willing to change them depending on whether or not he thinks it will help him get re-elected. If you don’t like his position on an issue, just wait a few days; it’s liable to change.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an independent; you can’t trust Dean Heller. He needs to be repealed and replaced, and that's why I'm running against him in the 2018 primary.
Danny Tarkanian is a businessman and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada.
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