House Speaker John Boehner stepped up his rhetoric in the fiscal cliff talks, seizing an opportunity to remind GOP naysayers of his old promise to get rid of Obamacare.
In a new op-ed published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday, the top Republican lawmaker demanded that President Obama’s signature health care law be up for discussion in high-stakes budget negotiations.
“The president’s health care law adds a massive, expensive, unworkable government program at a time when our national debt already exceeds the size of our country’s entire economy,” Boehner wrote in the Ohio paper. “We can’t afford it, and we can’t afford to leave it intact. That’s why I’ve been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation’s massive debt challenge.”
His comments play right to the GOP base–the same bunch he angered two days after the presidential election when he declared Obamacare the “law of the land.” Republicans didn’t like that admission of defeat and Boehner quickly walked back those comments.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act didn’t work out. The Supreme Court wasn’t much help either. So what’s plan C for Boehner? He wants to chip away at it through “vigorous oversight of the health care law.”
Sarah Kliff of The Washington Post warned “they could make some minor adjustments that shrink Obamacare’s reach” through this tactic, without totally dismantling the law. Areas vulnerable to tweaking include the amount of health insurance subsidies and trimming the fat from the law’s Public Health and Prevention Fund, she suggested.
If Congress and the president do not agree on $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by New Year’s Eve, then budget cuts amounting to $1.2 trillion will go into effect on January 1, and half of those cuts will be in defense spending, which would trigger a gradual chain of events like spending cuts and tax hikes, far less dramatic than its scary “fiscal cliff” nickname suggests. The other half comes from social programs like Medicaid.
A recent Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found 53% of those surveyed would blame congressional Republicans for going off the cliff–for the record, it’s more like a curb–if a deal cannot be reached.