Boehner: C'mon, these Republicans aren't going to repeal and replace ObamaCare

What’s the play here? Launch straight into mocking and scoffing at him, as if there isn’t a very good chance that he’s right, or show a little circumspection while panicky Republicans in Congress stagger towards a consensus?

A probability analysis published a few days ago put the odds of the GOP passing repeal by the end of April (right around the end of Trump’s first hundred days) at 35 percent.

“[Congressional Republicans are] going to fix Obamacare – I shouldn’t call it repeal-and-replace, because it’s not going to happen,” he said…

On Thursday, Boehner said the talk in November about lightning-fast passage of a new health care framework was wildly optimistic.

“I started laughing,” he said. “Republicans never ever agree on health care.”

In the end, “Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act … that’s going to be there,” he concluded.

Most of the framework is going to be there, it’s true. Watch below at around 5:30 as Boehner ticks through the most popular elements of O-Care, all of which Republicans from Trump on down have paid lip service to since the election: Coverage for preexisting conditions, letting young adults remain on their parents’ insurance up to age 26, and the thorny issue of subsidies for people who aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but aren’t rich enough to afford an exchange plan without help from their fellow taxpayers. The only key difference, Boehner claims, will be that states will have more discretion in how they set up their markets. I’d add another key difference: After seven years of belching hot fire about the mandate’s threat to individual liberty, the GOP will have no choice but to repeal it. Never mind that it’s the payment mechanism for the parts of the law, like preexisting conditions coverage, that everyone likes. Failing to repeal the mandate would amount to total capitulation politically to Obama, and that simply won’t stand. It’d be the health-care equivalent of Trump backing off on building the wall. They’ll repeal it because they need to, not because they necessarily have a better idea.

Speaking of which, where’s Trump in all of this? ObamaCare repeal was supposed to be the highlight of his first three months in office. Lately he’s gone quiet — as have some of the Republicans who made so much noise about repealing O-Care in the past.

“It’s hard to see how this gets done unless the president says, ‘OK, let’s do it this way,’” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a key committee chairman on Obamacare.

But it’s been awhile since Republicans have heard something substantive from Trump on Obamacare. When the president last weighed in constructively, he was prompted by Paul’s appearance on a cable news show, during which he railed against efforts to repeal the law without a replacement. Trump called up Paul to offer his support…

Although Trump could conceivably whip the competing GOP factions into line, some GOP officials privately say they’ve been tuning him out. The president’s shifting public statements sometimes don’t match what aides are saying behind the scenes. Trump has called Ryan to discuss health care on a number of occasions, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, has expressed interest in the subject, said several people familiar with the matter.

In the days since that story was published, more than one poll has showed public support for repeal cooling. Morning Consult found that approval of the law now equals disapproval at 45 percent each while Quinnipiac found opposition to repeal at 54 percent versus just 43 percent in favor. Combine that with the footage airing on CNN and other cable news nets of Republican lawmakers being screamed at during townhalls over O-Care and you can see the momentum for repeal evaporating before your very eyes. The thought may (and should) horrify conservatives, but if this is going to get done, it might need to be done on Trump’s terms instead of, say, Paul Ryan’s. A new poll out from Pew shows that, when asked to choose whom they trust more, 52 percent of Republicans say Trump versus just 34 percent who say congressional Republicans. Trump can put the fear of God into Ryan’s and McConnell’s caucuses and get them to pick up the pace, whatever the political costs of repeal may be, but a Trump makeover of ObamaCare is sure to imagine a larger role for government than Ryan’s version would. And the longer Trump waits to crack the whip, the greater the risk that his popularity will slide later this year to the point where McConnell and Ryan will no longer comply with his demands. High stakes right now. The highest!