GOP lawmaker: Sebelius' replacement brought in to "spin the numbers"

The news that Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning from her post has done nothing to quell Republican criticism over the Obamacare. The heat is likely to turn to the nominee to replace Sebelius, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, as she oversees the law going forward.

A Republican congresswoman suggested Sunday that Burwell was brought in to "spin the numbers" on the law.

"They know they've got a math problem with Obamacare, and the numbers are not going to work out so that the program is actuarially sound," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., on "Face the Nation." "They're going to have to have somebody to kind of spin the numbers. And this is something with Burwell coming from OMB, I think they're expecting her to be able to do for them."

Among the outstanding questions, Blackburn said, are how many of the 7.5 million people who have signed up have paid their premiums, how many received subsidies, how many are on Medicaid, and what percentage of enrollees are women.

Blackburn said Republicans will continue to work to repeal and replace the law, although they realize they won't be able to get it off the books entirely until President Obama is out of office.

In a separate interview on "Face the Nation," Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., predicted that the problems with, one of the biggest issues during Sebelius' tenure, will ultimately be "a footnote in history." Democrats should "go out there and argue the moral issues," he said, to show how the law has helped people, like allowing people with pre-existing conditions to get insurance.

"I am glad that Secretary Sebelius was able to accomplish all the things she set out to do," Cummings said. "She accomplished a lot with regards to disparities, healthcare disparities... and brought us...closer to an HIV/AIDS-free generation than anyone. She has accomplished a lot."

The two lawmakers also had starkly different takes on a paycheck fairness bill that Senate Republicans blocked last week. While Democrats said the bill would help close the pay gap between men and women by preventing companies from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries, in addition to giving businesses only a small list of reasons they can legally cite for paying women less than men. It also would have made it easier for women who feel they have faced discrimination to being class-action lawsuits against their employers.

"The legislation was something that was going to be helpful for trial lawyers," Blackburn said, explaining GOP opposition. "What we would like to see happen is equal opportunity and clearing up some of the problems that exist that are not fair to women. We're all for equal pay."

She said that insufficient access to capital, regulations, and Obamacare are factors that are actually holding women back.

Cummings disagreed with Blackburn's assertion that Republicans have led the fight for equality for women. He noted that the pay gap between men and women is even larger for African-American and Hispanic women.

"There's something absolutely wrong with that picture," Cummings said. "I have not seen them leading. As a matter of fact, they seem to be very much against it. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for