On stopping Obamacare, Boehner’s language switches from aspirational to absolute

We are going to repeal Obamacare…. I’m going to make sure this healthcare bill never, ever, ever is implemented.
— John Boehner, Fox News, November 4, 2010

Earlier in the week, I had some doubts as to how serious John Boehner was on the transcendent issue facing the country at this moment. But now he’s my man, and the foremost political leader in the country.

On Wednesday, he told a news conference:

I believe that the healthcare bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best healthcare system in the world, and bankrupt our country. That means we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common sense reforms to bring down the cost of health care.

I commented, in an entry posted on Thursday:

While I’m heartened by Boehner’s statement, he could and should have put it more strongly. He should have said, not that “we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill,” a comment with too much hedging and qualifying language, but, “We are committed as a party to repealing this totally unacceptable bill and we will not give up until we have done so.”

Yet even before I gave that advice (which was added to the post on Friday morning, November 5), Boehner had already hardened his stance. In an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News on Thursday, November 4 (see video), Boehner said:

BAIER: Healthcare—the president says he’s willing to tweak the healthcare law. You say you’re committed to repealing it. There’s a big distance between tweaking and repealing.

BOEHNER: Oh, that’s a very big difference.

BAIER: You’re still committed to repealing it?

BOEHNER: This healthcare bill will ruin the best healthcare system in the world and it will bankrupt our country.

BAIER: So you’ll take a vote on …

BOEHNER: I am convinced …

BAIER:—repealing it?

BOEHNER: We are going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the costs of health insurance.

BAIER: So what do you say to critics who say this vote is really a charade, knowing that a Democratic Senate will either stop it or the president will veto it and that it’s taking time and you could be dealing with something else? Why not try to compromise and—and at least affect it now, the healthcare law, that you can?

BOEHNER: First and foremost, this is about the greatest healthcare system in the world. And secondly, let’s not forget, this is also about jobs. And if you look at all of the requirements on employers, you can understand why they’re not hiring new employees, because we’ve raised the cost of employment.

Beyond repealing Obamacare, we’re going to do everything we can to stop this bill from being implemented, to make sure it never happens. And, frankly, if we’re successful, this will become the No. 1 issue in the presidential election

BAIER: How …

BOEHNER:—in 2012.

BAIER: How much time are you going to spend on this?

BOEHNER: As much …

BAIER: We’ve spent …

BOEHNER:—as much as it takes.

BAIER: You criticized the president for spending too much time on healthcare. If you spend a lot of time trying to repeal it when it’s not a reality in a Democratic Senate or in a presidential veto, won’t you get criticized for that?

BOEHNER: Well, there’s a lot of tricks up our sleeves in terms of how we can dent this, kick it, slow it down to make sure it never happens. And trust me, I’m going to make sure this healthcare bill never, ever, ever is implemented.

BAIER: So are you for preventing insurance companies from denying someone insurance based on pre-existing conditions?

BOEHNER: No. And there are common-sense reforms that we can agree on that will bring down the cost of health insurance.

BAIER: Are you going to start over?

BOEHNER: Start over—that’s where we were a year ago, that’s where we were six months ago. We’ve not changed our position on this at all. We told the president down at the Blair House during the seven-hour Obama infomercial that we ought to stop and start over. And we laid out the eight or nine common-sense ideas we had that would bring down the costs of health insurance.

[end of interview]

LA writes:

Bret Baier kept saying, if you vote in the House to repeal Obamacare, and the repeal cannot get past the Senate and the president, aren’t you wasting your and the country’s time?

Boehner had an dispositive answer to that objection, but he presented it in compressed form rather than spelling it out. His answer was that, in order to repeal Obamacare, Obama himself must be defeated in 2012, because as long as he is president, he will veto any repeal. And in order to make Obamacare a central issue in the 2012 campaign, the Republican House must vote to repeal Obamacare in 2011, even though the repeal will not get through the Democratic-controlled Senate. That stand-off will set up the stark choice the public will face in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections: elect a Democratic Senate, and elect Obama, and keep Obamacare; or elect a Republican Senate, and elect a Republican president, and repeal Obamacare. In the meantime, short of repealing Obamacare, the Republican House can and will prevent it from being implemented.

Boehner’s clear, unambiguous statements on this issue, covering all the bases, exemplify political leadership.

- end of initial entry -

Philip M. writes from England:

Wow. This Boehner guy should watch his back. You cannot show this amount of disrespect to the left and expect to go unpunished. THIS is leadership. In Europe, someone of a comparible politcal significance would wind up dying in a car-crash with an unlikely amounts of alcohol in his blood, or suffer death by mockery, or else be written out of the plot in some other way.

Ferg writes:

This is far stronger language than he used at the several events I attended at which he was the guest speaker. I hope he means it all. I know this is what Rep. Michele Bachmann wants and what Rep. John Kline wants and I will be constantly reminding them of that. On the strongest terms I can find to use.

Roland D. writes:

All the House needs to do to stop Obamacare from being implemented is to attach a rider to every bill they pass which forbids any monies allocated in said bill to be prohibited from being used for Obamacare (I forget the formal name of the bill), and b) then force a straight up-or-down vote on funding Obamacare, which will of course produce the desired outcome.

The fact that Boehner—who surely knows how to accomplish this—isn’t being more specific makes me very, very suspicious.

LA replies:

He makes this powerful, unambiguous, statement, but because he’s not putting it in exactly the technical form in which you want him to put it, you’re “very, very suspicious.” I think you’re being too tough on him.

posted November 9

Philip M. writes from England:

I remember saying to my friend when we first heard about Obamacare that there just seemed something so un-American about socialised medicine. When I thought about it, I realised that this was because of the loss of freedom it would entail. When you are in a NHS hospital, you are left in no doubt who is in charge—the staff, and they resent you for encroaching on their time. They’re oppressive places, and not because of the illness. They are Communist-era relics, with a spirit familiar to anyone who has read Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. Having a nationalised healthcare system is also a big step towards having a nationalised morality. You get the feeling Boehner understands all this.

Roland D. writes:

I’m still suspicious, but less so that before. I basically don’t trust any of the establishment GOPers, and will be pleasantly surprised if they achieve anything beyond a temporary freeze in the status quo.

Ferg writes:

All I can say is, good!

Sophia A. writes:

Politicians rarely put things as bluntly as Boehner did. He’s drawn a line in the sand. He’s staking an awful lot on this issue. He means it.

Let’s say he succeeds. Might you re-think your prediction that “Boner” could never become president? Might Mr. Bayner not turn out to be our (ahem) “People’s Leader”?

LA replies:

He’ll be too busy being Speaker to think about running for president. Remember, any candidate for 2012 has got to declare his candidacy by mid 2011 at the latest.

Joseph C. writes:

I too am suspicious of John Boehner. I know he can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk?

During the disgraceful Wall Street bailout, Boehner’s constituents pleaded with him not to go along with TARP. He replied that “This is no time for ideological purity.” Too many Republicans speak of free markets, personal responsibility, etc., and then kick ideological purity to the curb just when it is most needed.

When California and New York are desperate for money to avoid the social upheaval that comes with firing thousands of government workers, and they come to the Feds rattling a tin cup, how will Boehner and the GOP react? Will they refuse to tax their own constituents, or will they cave in the face of entreaties from “the media” because “this is no time for ideological purity”? When there is an emergency in the U.S. (e.g., Katrina, September 11th, war, etc.), do Boehner and the GOP attach an Obamacare repeal rider to every “emergency” bill, or do they refuse to be partisan because “this is no time for ideological purity”? And if it does not work the first time, do they try again and again and again, so the voters are never allowed to forget this monstrosity?

I hope Boehner and the new GOP force the repeal into every possible bill, and force the Senate and Obama to stand in the way or repeatedly veto otherwise popular legislation. Until I see them do this, I will assume Boehner is just another Newt Gingrich.

Roger G. writes:

Boehner—how soon we forget.

In your 10/4/10 entry, FD wrote:

The Boehner for President thread was too much. Boehner and McConnell ARE THE REASON there is a Tea Party. It was their failure to stand up to Bush that cost the Republicans the House and Senate. It was their failure to see what was happening to the country that led to TARP. It was their failure to provide real leadership—a visible national alternative to the Democrats—that led to the passage of the health care bill. It was their failure to understand the rage at Washington that caused a massive number of the American people to support the Tea Party movement. Talk Radio and the Web gave a voice to critics of the Democrats, but the Republican leadership was nowhere to be seen or heard providing an alternative.

Even now Boehner is unable to get Republican support for Paul Ryan’s Roadmap plan which would at least enable the nation to begin to triage its finances. McConnell has done nothing to reign in the Republicans in the Senate to get them to step aside graciously when they lose primaries or punish the ethically challenged members (like my own senator John Ensign). Both Boehner and McConnell listened to Muslim fifth-columnist Grover Norquist and said nothing substantive about immigration in the snooze-inducing “Pledge.”

Both Boehner and McConnell should have stepped aside from their leadership positions for the good of the country. But they won’t and so we will miss chance after chance to make real improvements. Neither of them have displayed vision or leadership in their current roles. They are both very good number three men.

See also this by Gary North.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 06, 2010 11:40 AM | Send

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