Three weeks ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded with a simple message to the news that Affordable Care Act enrollment had exceeded expectations: “House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law.”
Three weeks later, it appears even Boehner doesn’t believe Boehner’s bluster.
Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act make it impossible to just repeal the health care law unless Congress has a replacement ready as well.Speaking at a Rotary Club meeting in his Ohio district … Boehner said simply repealing the Affordable Care Act “isn’t the answer” and it would take time to transition to a new system.
According to the account from the local paper, Boehner specifically told his audience, “(To) repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer. The answer is repeal and replace. The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market overnight.”
Hmm. Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane.
In 2011, Boehner tried several times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In 2012, shortly after the national elections, Boehner suggested he was done trying to repeal the law. “It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected,” he said. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
In 2013, Boehner returned to trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and even shut down the federal government in part over ill-defined opposition to the law.
In 2014, just a few weeks after saying his caucus will keep up its repeal crusade, Boehner has returned to the realization that the ACA is “the law of the land” and full repeal “isn’t the answer.”
And to think some House Republicans aren’t satisfied with the quality of the Speaker’s leadership.
I suppose the obvious next question for Boehner is this: when, exactly, did he come to the realization that trying to “repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer”?
On the one hand, if this just recently dawned on the House Speaker, why did it take him so long?
On the other hand, if Boehner has been aware of this for some time, then why has he allowed House Republicans to waste so much time with several dozen votes to repeal some or all of the federal reform law?
The clarification from his office didn’t help much.
Spokesman Brendan Buck downplayed Boehner’s comments. “For four years now the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace,” he said.The GOP, however, has taken a number of votes to repeal the law, including bills that would have completely repealed the law without replacing it. The party hasn’t unified behind a replacement, let alone voted on one, since Boehner took the speaker’s gavel.
The Speaker’s occasional incoherence notwithstanding, Boehner’s underlying sentiment reinforces the fact that the health care debate has shifted considerably just over the last several weeks. Between all of the positive news surrounding implementation of the law, the remarkable enrollment data, Democrats starting to look at the law as a political benefit, Republicans hedging on ACA issues like Medicaid expansion, and the nation’s top GOP lawmaker abandoning full repeal as “the answer,” Obamacare proponents finally have the wind at the their backs.