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White House To Boehner: Obamacare Not Part Of Fiscal Cliff Deal

The White House and congressional Democrats are balking at the idea, floated by House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday, that changes to the president's signature health care law should be on the table during lame-duck talks over taxes and the deficit.

An administration official told The Huffington Post that the president would oppose involving the Affordable Care Act in the negotiations taking place to stave off the so-called "fiscal cliff." A top Senate Democratic aide called the idea "absolutely" a non-starter.

"And they know that, so its counterproductive to even offer it," the aide added.

Another Senate Democratic aide did concede that some changes to the Affordable Care Act could be made as part of a grand-bargain deal that would replace the expiring Bush-era tax cuts and the $1 trillion in spending cuts included in the sequester. But those changes would not alter the purpose and reach of the law "in any meaningful way."

The comments came in response to an op-ed, written by Boehner for the Cincinnati Enquirer, in which he declared that the Affordable Care Act "has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation’s massive debt challenge."

The speaker has made this point before, holding 33 votes during the past two years to wipe the law from the books. His appetite for this specific fight seemed to wane a bit after the 2012 elections, when he told ABC News that Obamacare was now the law of the land. But he quickly walked back that remark, and his op-ed ends the talk, for the time being, that House Republicans have given up on the idea of full repeal.

Still, it's difficult to see Boehner and company making much progress on this front. For starters, he held more leverage in prior showdowns with the White House than he does now. And while he was able to secure minor changes to the law before it was passed, he swung and missed on the bigger items, like the individual mandate.

Boehner's office declined to provide specific information about his plans beyond what he wrote in the Enquirer, but he could make another play at that provision during the lame-duck talks. He could end up targeting another subject of Republican griping: the independent advisory board assembled to keep Medicare costs low. But it seems more likely that he will aim for lower-hanging fruit, such as Medicaid spending or insurance tax credits.

The speaker may find those elements of the law easier to change, but the politics won't be simple. As the first Senate Democratic aide emailed: "Pushing this will just show that Republicans are ignoring the writing on the wall and are profoundly un-serious about getting a deal to avert the cliff."

by Anonymousreply 511/26/2012

Let us fall of the alleged "fiscal cliff" if that's what the repukes want. When the red states lose all those federal military dollars that they enjoy so much and the wealthy lose their cushy tax breaks, the repukes will come back to the bargaining table very quickly.

by Anonymousreply 111/26/2012

Oh who the hell cares? Obamacare is a pathetic bandaid on a cancerous system that needed a complete overhaul. A few sensible regulations in a morass of gifts to the health insurance industry and the Obama people act like it's some brilliant victory. It's the 1993 Republican health care plan, literally.

Now take Social Security off the table and you're talking.

by Anonymousreply 211/26/2012

In Europe they don't talk about "fiscal cliffs". They talk about "austerity bombs". And they are right and we are wrong to let right wingers frame the debate.

by Anonymousreply 311/26/2012

Obama and the Dems no longer need to bow down to what the GOP wants, they LOST and need to STFU.

by Anonymousreply 411/26/2012

Personally, I believe the republicans know they're going to ultimately lose this battle and will have to acquiesce to whatever Obama wants. They're just trying to put up as much of a public fight as possible in order to hopefully save their asses come re-election time. It will help some of them, but others will be tossed out by the anti tax loonies. Either way, fuck 'em all. In 4 years Washington will be a totally different place than it is now.

by Anonymousreply 511/26/2012
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