House Speaker John Boehner conceded last year that Obamacare is the "law of the land," but that doesn't mean he likes it. The Ohio Republican declared on Tuesday that the president's Affordable Care Act -- which has suffered a rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov site -- was a "wet blanket over our economy," insisting it's slowed economic growth and prevented small businesses from hiring. "With all this uncertainty around this law, employers are having a very difficult time making decisions. It's time to delay this. It's time to fix this before it gets any worse," said Boehner.
The odd metaphor seemed to fade a bit recently, but it may be poised for a comeback.
Now, I have no idea if Speaker Boehner actually believes his own rhetoric. I also can't say why, in his mind, "delaying" a national health care law would eliminate "uncertainty," when common sense would suggest the opposite is true.
And while we're at it, I also don't know if Boehner has any evidence whatsoever to bolster the assertion that expanding access to health care coverage is undermining the economy -- a claim that appears to have been simply made up.
What I can say with great confidence, however, is that if Boehner is sincere about wanting to eliminate policies that serve as a "wet blanket over our economy," that's terrific news.
Speaker Boehner and his Republican colleagues, for example, recently shut down the government for reasons even they can't explain, which clearly undermined the economy. They also threatened a sovereign debt crisis, which didn't do the economy any favors, either. At the same time, they're backing a sequestration policy that, we know with certainty, is severely holding the economy back. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that if Congress ended the sequester, it would add up to an additional 1 million new jobs in the United States in 2014.
Boehner wants to talk about economic wet blankets? I'm delighted. If he would agree, today, to end government-shutdown threats, permanently end debt-ceiling crises, and scrap the painful-by-design sequestration policy, the economy would see an immediate boost. That's not conjecture; it's just reality. Indeed, some enterprising reporter might want to ask the Speaker: if Congress ended the sequester and took debt-ceiling crises off the table forever, would that help the economy? I suspect even Boehner knows the answer.
But the Speaker doesn't want to take these simple and obvious steps, in part because he's turned too many governing decisions over to radicalized Tea Party members, and in part because economic growth really isn't his principal goal right now.
And with this in mind, he should probably steer clear of public complaints about "wet blankets."