Boehner To Obama: Obamacare Is On The Table In Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

 @LauraMatt
on November 21 2012 1:22 PM
Obama And Boehner
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, hosts a bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders, including Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-Ohio, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Reuters

Less than two weeks after declaring Obamacare the “law of the land,” House Speaker John Boehner now wants President Barack Obama’s new health care law on the table as Congress negotiates the fiscal cliff.

In an op-ed piece for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Boehner, R-Ohio, appears to argue for changes to the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, a law he says cannot stay in its current form.

“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,” Boehner wrote. “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.”

Republicans have vowed to repeal Obamacare since the Supreme Court found it constitutional this summer. Before that, they tried hard to ensure the law wouldn't see fruition.

Under the law, coverage will be given to tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans. The law is expected to be in full effect in 2014.

When he spoke to ABC News’ Diane Sawyer earlier this month, Boehner suggested that the party wouldn’t trouble itself with seeking a repeal of the nation’s new health care law because Obama’s re-election showed a majority of the nation was in tune with the president's plan.

“The election changes that,” Boehner said. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”

But Boehner now argues that for the U.S. economy to resume its pre-crisis growth rate, “common-sense, step-by-step reforms that start with lowering the cost of health care” must be in place.

But the House speaker might be asking for too much. Democrats have presented a different view on how to kickstart the economy and bring the nation’s more than $16 trillion deficit down.

For Democrats, bringing down the deficit should be a balanced approach that involves government spending cuts and new revenue from a tax hike on the wealthy.

Obama has, on multiple occasions, said he is open to compromise but won’t take a proposal that doesn’t include asking wealthy Americans “to pay a little more.”

Lawmakers have just 41 days to agree on the best course to take for averting the impending fiscal cliff -- the combination of deep cuts in government spending and tax hikes for every American.

Without a plan to avoid that "fiscal cliff," the current 7.9 percent unemployment rate could shot up to 9 percent, and the economy could enter a recession again, experts have warned.

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