Boehner and Health Care Reform post-election

By on November 10, 2012

Speaker of the House John Boehner surprised a number of people yesterday when he told Diane Sawyer of ABC News that Obamacare, the PPACA of 2010 was now the law of the land since the electorate had spoken, and that the Republicans might want to modify parts of it going forward but he would not be leading any efforts now to repeal it.

This was the most adult statement of the week. The PPACA is now the law. There are too many benefits that the electorate wants to have in place. Both Democrats and Republicans should be concentrating on what features will need to be altered or improved in the years to come. Nobody gets everything perfect the first time, and this is a complex law. As we have said in these pages, there is still much uncertainly about the PPACA, particularly its impacts on cost. But it was a long overdue step in the right direction and the electorate now sees that.

Sadly the Speaker tweeted a quasi-retraction hours after this news hit the Internet. This was not a shock. Boehner wants to retain his position as Speaker of the House. Leadership elections are upcoming. With a majority of Republicans  returning, he should expect to be retained. The trouble, as we have seen, is that the Republican coalition includes many members of the lunatic fringe on the right whose votes keep the GOP competitive in many elections. They hated Obamacare and campaigned against it. Some of these squeaked through to re-election thanks to gerrymandering. They are not ready for reality.

The President needs an adult guiding Congress, helping him guide his agenda through the House during his second term. He needs someone who has a clear-eyed understanding of the Health Care challenge and is open to dealing with reality. The Eric Cantors and the Paul Ryans have been all too willing to pander to their lunatic fringe to further their dark ambitions. That is unlikely to change with 2016 ahead. This makes Boehner a crucial player.

The White House needs to assist this Speaker in what ever way it can so health (and other) policy keeps moving forward in an intelligent and meaningful faction. It should not lose sight that the ‘Legitimate rapers’, “God-intended rapers”, “Rapture theorists” and  possibly believers that the stork brings babies are still occupying seats in the new House. These are the same lovable loonies who struggle with Global Warming and Evolution. Some even sit on the House Science Committee, if you can believe that.

Boehner knows where these bodies are planted under the rotunda. They need constant watering and attention.  He will need to work hard to bring them along to meet Twenty-first Century Challenges as they arise. This is not an easy or enviable task. From 2010 through 2012 he did not get a lot of help.

The Democratic side must now step in and assist. The Fourth Estate also has a function here. Voters could also help to by not returning the village idiot to Congress repeatedly, but, let’s face it, even idiots deserve representation. That is the essence of Democracy. And the challenge we now face.

Tom Godfrey

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