Boehner: Hold up, the ObamaCare fight isn't over yet

Speaker of the House John Boehner got quite a bit of flack a couple weeks ago when he said that “ObamaCare is the law of the land” in response to a question about whether he’d continue to try and get the massive bureaucratic nightmare repealed — I think it smacked of “time to give up and move on” a little too much for some conservatives’ tastes. Ergo, in an op-ed last night, Boehner tried to refine that message a bit, instead noting that certain avenues are now less viable for Republicans’ goals, but that they can still mix up their strategy to get things accomplished:

The tactics of our repeal efforts will have to change. But the strategic imperative remains the same. If we’re serious about getting our economy moving again, solving our debt and restoring prosperity for American families, we need to repeal Obamacare and enact common-sense, step-by-step reforms that start with lowering the cost of health care.

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. 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.

Congress has a constitutional responsibility to conduct thorough oversight of the executive branch, and congressional oversight will play a critical role in repealing Obamacare going forward.

Over the past couple of years, I have noted there are essentially three major routes to repeal of the president’s law: the courts, the presidential election process and the congressional oversight process. With two of those three routes having come up short, the third and final one becomes more important than ever.

As ObamaCare is slowly but steadily implemented (there are plenty of rules that haven’t even been written yet, remember), the Speaker is right that there are going to be a million and one things for which Congress will need to watch out. Waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, administrative incompetence, and unintended consequences galore — they’re part and parcel of any too-big-for-its-britches bureaucratic endeavor like this. No, ObamaCare will not be repealed while Obama is still in office, but shining a light onto the seedier aspects and calamitous effects of the law is going to be a big part of the national discussion in the coming years.

Boehner also went on to praise Ohio gov. Kasich’s decision to pass on implementing a government-run insurance exchange, highlighting the role that governors can have in resisting health care’s federal takeover — as James Capretta and Yuval Levin put it in the WSJ the other day:

Talk of the law’s inevitability is intended to pressure these governors into implementing it on the administration’s behalf. But states still have two key choices to make that together will put them in the driver’s seat: whether to create state health-insurance exchanges, and whether to expand Medicaid. They should say “no” to both. …

Running the exchanges would be an administrative nightmare for states, requiring a complicated set of rules, mandates, databases and interfaces to establish eligibility, funnel subsidies, and facilitate purchases. All of this would have to take place under broad and often incoherent statutory requirements and federal regulations that have yet to be written. …

States would endure all this simply to become functionaries of the federal government. The idea that creating state exchanges would give states control over their insurance markets is a fantasy. The states would be enforcing a federal law and federal regulations, with very little room for independent judgment. …

By declining to build exchanges, the states would pass the burden and costs of the exchanges to the administration that sought this law. And it is far from clear that the administration could operate the exchanges on its own.