How much time will Republicans spend on stopping ObamaCare? “As much as it takes,” John Boehner commits during his one-on-one interview with Fox’s Bret Baier. In this clip from Townhall’s Greg Hengler, Boehner insists that the action is necessary to get the economy moving again after Baier challenges Boehner on his previous criticism that Barack Obama and the Democrats spent too much time on health care while the economy stagnated. Boehner clearly ties his party’s fortunes to repealing or at least stopping ObamaCare and suggests that it will be one of the big issues in the presidential campaign two years from now:
Andrew Malcolm has the transcript:
BAIER: Healthcare — the president says he’s willing to tweak the healthcare law. You say you’re committed to repealing it. There’s a big distance between tweaking and repealing.
BOEHNER: Oh, that’s a very big difference.
BAIER: You’re still committed to repealing it?
BOEHNER: This healthcare bill will ruin the best healthcare system in the world and it will bankrupt our country.
BAIER: So you’ll take a vote on…
BOEHNER: I am convinced…
BAIER: — repealing it?
BOEHNER: We are going to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the costs of health insurance.
BAIER: So what do you say to critics who say this vote is really a charade, knowing that a Democratic Senate will either stop it or the president will veto it and that it’s taking time and you could be dealing with something else? Why not try to compromise and — and at least affect it now, the healthcare law, that you can?
BOEHNER: First and foremost, this is about the greatest healthcare system in the world. And secondly, let’s not forget, this is also about jobs. And if you look at all of the requirements on employers, you can understand why they’re not hiring new employees, because we’ve raised the cost of employment.
Beyond repealing Obamacare, we’re going to do everything we can to stop this bill from being implemented, to make sure it never happens. And, frankly, if we’re successful, this will become the No. 1 issue in the presidential election…
BOEHNER: — in 2012.
BAIER: How much time are you going to spend on this?
BOEHNER: As much…
BAIER: We’ve spent…
BOEHNER: — as much as it takes.
BAIER: You criticized the president for spending too much time on healthcare. If you spend a lot of time trying to repeal it when it’s not a reality in a Democratic Senate or in a presidential veto, won’t you get criticized for that?
BOEHNER: Well, there’s a lot of tricks up our sleeves in terms of how we can dent this, kick it, slow it down to make sure it never happens. And trust me, I’m going to make sure this healthcare bill never ever, ever is implemented.
BAIER: So are you for preventing insurance companies from denying someone insurance based on pre-existing conditions?
BOEHNER: No. And there are common-sense reforms that we can agree on that will bring down the cost of health insurance.
BAIER: Are you going to start over?
BOEHNER: Start over — that’s where we were a year ago, that’s where we were six months ago. We’ve not changed our position on this at all. We told the president down at the Blair House during the seven-hour Obama infomercial that we ought to stop and start over. And we laid out the eight or nine common-sense ideas we had that would bring down the costs of health insurance.
The coverage mandate will be tricky, though, without a purchase mandate, at least in the present system. It adds cost and risk to insurers, which will force premiums to escalate, especially if insurers can’t force healthy people to pay for comprehensive policies they don’t need. The only way to make that work is to end the tax incentives in the employer-based insurance model, encourage people to move to HSAs and hospitalization policies, and in general restore the pricing mechanisms and return insurers to risk management rather than the role of health-care brokers.
Can Boehner deliver that kind of change after a season in which voters got sick of debate over government reordering of the health-care sector? Let’s hope so. It won’t go anywhere in the Senate, but it will provide evidence that the GOP is willing to take action to provide real reform to a system that has badly needed it for decades. And in this case, the government will be reforming itself (the perverse tax incentives set up during WWII) rather than dictating the organization of a private market.