In case Senate Republicans weren’t already having enough trouble rounding up votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, here comes ex-House speaker John Boehner with a prediction that the GOP will “never” succeed in their quest to kill the law.
“Now, they’re never — they’re not going to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Boehner said at a private speech in Las Vegas, according to The Washington Post, which obtained video of the Republican’s remarks.
“It’s been around too long,” Boehner reportedly told the audience. “And the American people have gotten accustomed to it. Governors have gotten accustomed to this Medicaid expansion, and so trying to pull it back is really not going to work.”
Just last week, Boehner’s spokesman declined an interview request from The Cincinnati Enquirer, saying he didn’t want to wade into the fraught debate vexing his former congressional allies.
“He has no plans for interviews or public comment of any sort presently on this subject, out of deference to his former colleagues,” his spokesman, Dave Schnittger, said in an email. “We hope you understand.”
But while Boehner has been turning away media requests, he’s been eagerly accepting paid gigs where he candidly dishes on everything from President Trump's tenure to the the outlook for major legislation on Capitol Hill.
The Post reported that Boehner made his remarks on July 21 at a trade show hosted by Good Neighbor Pharmacy, a group of independent pharmacies — backed at least in part by a large pharmaceutical distribution company — that would have keen interest in the fate of the health care law.
In his remarks, Boehner predicted that GOP lawmakers might be able to nix certain provisions of Obamacare, but not the entire law — despite the GOP's oft-repeated promise over the last seven years to wipe the Affordable Care Act off the books.
“When it’s all said and done, you’re not going to have an employer mandate anymore, you’re not going to have the individual mandate,” Boehner said, according to the Post’s account. Those are two unpopular provisions of the ACA.
“The Medicaid expansion will be there," Boehner said. "The governors will have more control over their Medicaid populations and how to get them care, and a lot of Obamacare taxes will probably go.”
Boehner’s comments couldn’t come at a more difficult moment for his party. The Senate is expected to take up a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare on Tuesday, but it’s not clear whether they have enough votes to pass anything — or even to begin debate.
Boehner has made similar remarks in the past — saying, for example, that the GOP’s pledge to pass tax reform was “happy talk.”
In his remarks to the Las Vegas crowd, he conceded that his successor as House speaker, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wasn’t thrilled with such remarks.
The last time he made waves in a paid speech, Ryan texted Boehner a two-word reaction: “Gee, thanks,” Ryan said in that missive, according to Boehner.