Updated 10:27 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act make it impossible to repeal the health care law unless Congress has a replacement ready as well.
Speaking at a Rotary Club meeting in his Ohio district, the speaker also mocked members of his own conference for not wanting to address immigration, knocked the tea party — or, more specifically, organizations that raise money purporting to represent the tea party — and expounded upon the role of money in education, according to a news report from a newspaper near his district.
On health care, Boehner said simply repealing the Affordable Care Act “isn’t the answer” and it would take time to transition to a new system.
Spokesman Brendan Buck downplayed Boehner’s comments. “For four years now, the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace,” he said.
The GOP, however, has taken a number of votes to repeal the law, including bills that would have completely repealed the law without replacing it. The party hasn’t unified behind a replacement, let alone voted on one, since Boehner took the speaker’s gavel. Republicans however have been working to craft such a bill for months. Boehner’s comments seem to reflect the new reality of the law. With 8 million people having signed up on the Affordable Care Act exchanges, and every state having adapted to the new regulations, repealing the law effective overnight would be messy in the extreme without at least a transition period.
On immigration, Boehner gave his impersonation of the Republican refusal to take on the issue.
“Here’s the attitude. ‘Ohhhh. Don’t make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard,’” Boehner whined before a luncheon crowd at Brown’s Run Country Club in Madison Township. “We get elected to make choices. We get elected to solve problems and it’s remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don’t want to. . . . They’ll take the path of least resistance.”
Boehner said he’s been working for 16 months or 17 months trying to push Congress to deal with an immigration rewrite.
“I’ve had every brick and bat and arrow shot at me over this issue just because I wanted to deal with it. I didn’t say it was going to be easy,” he said.
Buck played down the mocking as a form of affection.
“As the speaker often says to his colleagues, you only tease the ones you love,” he said in an email.
On the tea party, Boehner said he had issues with organizations who purport to represent the tea party.
Heritage Action for America CEO Mike Needham didn’t take kindly to Boehner’s remarks, releasing a statement late Thursday.
Boehner, who is a former chairman of the committee that is now called Education and the Workforce, also offered his opinions on education policy and the controversial No Child Left Behind, which he helped draft.
Steven T. Dennis contributed to this report.