Failures of self-awareness are all too common in politics, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) outdid himself yesterday. Democrats "like to say" they want to fix the Affordable Care Act, Boehner complained, "but where's their plan? They don't have one."
No, the Speaker's Twitter account hadn't been hacked. Boehner, or at least the aides who help write his script, actually felt compelled to argue that Democrats don't have a health care plan. This from the head of the House Republicans, who've been promising to present an alternative to "Obamacare" for five years, but who haven't actually produced anything.
But the Speaker's tone-deaf nonsense got me thinking -- where is that GOP plan?
It was on Jan. 30 of this year that then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) made a specific vow: "This year, we will rally around an alternative to Obamacare and pass it on the floor of the House." Whatever happened to that solemn promise?
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's shocking primary loss ... all but kills any chance of the House voting on an Obamacare replacement bill this year. The prospects of Republicans rallying around a replacement policy and scheduling a vote was already an uphill endeavor.... But the loss of the House leader who was most closely allied with the lawmakers seeking a vote is probably an insurmountable obstacle.
Asked about his party's vow to pursue a Republican alternative to the ACA, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said of Cantor, "He's the guy who made the commitment."
What an interesting reply. The House Majority Leader made a promise on behalf of his party, but apparently that promise was annulled when the Majority Leader lost in a primary. In other words, after five years of waiting for a GOP health care policy, Americans can start to look forward to a sixth.
All the while, there's poor John Boehner, who not only prefers to ignore his party's non-existent plan, but who also wants to mock Democrats for not having a detailed plan to improve their already effective plan.
Of course, we know why the House GOP is struggling with this. As we talked about in February, Republicans could present an alternative policy that they love, but it’ll quickly be torn to shreds, make the party look foolish, and make clear that the GOP is not to be trusted with health care policy. Indeed, it would very likely scare the American mainstream to be reminded what Republicans would do if the power over the system were in their hands.
On other hand, Republicans could present a half-way credible policy, but it would have to require some regulations and public investments, which necessarily means the party’s base would find it abhorrent.
As a Republican Hill staffer recently told Sahil Kapur, every attempt to come up with a serious proposal leads to a plan that “looks a hell of a lot like the Affordable Care Act.” And so we get … nothing.
Nothing, that is, except the Democratic law, which is working quite well.