Boehner to Democrats: Good Luck Defending Health Care Bill

Posted July 29, 2009 at 2:07pm

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted Wednesday that the House health care plan would be “shredded— over the August recess and that Democratic leaders will spend September picking up the pieces.

“If this bill hangs out there over the August recess it will be shredded, and when they get back they’ll have nothing,— said Boehner, speaking at a lunch sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “I would just wish them good luck.—

Republicans have vowed to hammer Democrats on the issue throughout the monthlong recess to try to derail a bill they describe as a government takeover of the health care system.

In order to minimize the damage, Boehner suggested that Democrats should consider starting from scratch.

“I think it’s just time to scrap the proposal on the table and hit the reset button and then find a way to work together to do real heath care reform that lowers cost and increases access to the American people,— Boehner said.

Boehner said the deadlines set by Democratic leaders were mistakes and have hurt their ability to move the bill through the legislative process.

“The worse thing you can ever do is to set a deadline because you are raising expectations and in this business you want to overachieve, not underachieve and when you set deadlines you set expectations and it always gets you in trouble,— he said. “This is the legislative process. This isn’t some machine that’s producing cans of Coke.—

Boehner added, “It’s a legislative process that has more twists and turns and personalities than you can imagine. I think it’s always a problem.—

While Boehner made his differences with President Barack Obama’s legislative agenda clear, he praised the president for having worked with Congress to translate his priorities into bills.

He compared Obama’s approach to how he and the then-President George W. Bush worked together to craft the No Child Left Behind bill. Boehner formerly served as the chairman of the House Education panel.

“Last thing the White House needs to do … is to have a bill introduced,— Boehner said. “Then everybody can go through every dot and title in it and pick out every little thing— they oppose in the bill.

“I think having a framework of principles of what you want to accomplish to solve the problems in this country makes a lot of sense,— he said. “These bills don’t get written on the Hill in a vacuum. … [The administration] may not be in the room, but they’re not far from it.—

Boehner also gave some credit to conservative Blue Dog Democrats, saying he was surprised at how they have fought to change the heath care bill.

“If you look back, the majority has had the majority now for two and a half years,— Boehner said. “If my memory is correct, this is the first uprising of the Blue Dogs from [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi’s [D-Calif.] lap.

He continued, “Good for them. At some point I figured they would actually start to do something, and so far they are.—