Obama: Republicans Should Have Told Me About Their Better Healthcare Ideas in 2009
President Barack Obama taunted Republican lawmakers Friday as they prepared to gut his "signature legislative achievement" ObamaCare.
During an online interview with left-wing White House echo-chamber "explainer" website Vox, Obama snidely said that he would publicly support repealing "Obamacare" if Republicans could come up with something better, but expressed doubt that the GOP would be able to manage it.
"Now is the time that Republicans have to go ahead and show their cards," the president said. "If in fact, they have a program that would genuinely work better, and they want to call it whatever they want -- they can call it TrumpCare, they can call it McConnellCare or RyanCare. If it actually works, I will be the first one to say, great." He added, "You [the GOP] should have told me that back in 2009. I asked."
Kellyanne Conway responded to Obama's comments on Fox News Friday night.
"He's just being sarcastic -- I don't know why -- it's not very becoming," she told "The O'Reilly Factor" fill-in host Eric Bolling. "Here's the thing, I was in the closed-door meeting with the Republican conference on Wednesday that was led by our Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The main topic of conversation was repealing and replacing ObamaCare -- having a very serious, substantive conversation about how to do that, knowing that millions of people rely upon it, knowing that pre-existing condition coverage is popular."
"But Eric," Conway continued, "we did try to help in 2009. We were rebuffed and won everything not nailed to the ground in 2010 because ObamaCare was the first major entitlement passed in this country without a single vote from one of the two political parties. It passed without a single Republican vote. His party owns it."
She, of course, nailed it. It is not for nothing that Kellyanne Conway is known as "the Queen of Comebacks."
Republican proposals went nowhere in Congress in 2009, and Democrats plowed ahead without their support. But that didn't stop Obama from heralding "unprecedented progress" on the bill at the time.
As Avik Roy explained in Forbes in April of 2012 when the Supreme Court was still deciding ObamaCare's fate, there had been a path to bipartisan healthcare reform in 2009, but the Democrats rejected it. The Democratic leadership -- specifically Obama and Harry Reid -- had no interest in a bipartisan deal.
Universal-coverage activist John McDonough, in his book Inside National Health Reform, recounts that Max Baucus’ original November 2008 blueprint for health reform “had made known [Baucus’] intention to use changes in the tax treatment of health insurance as his major financing source to pay for reform.” As Baucus put it in his blueprint, “It is time to explore ways in which tax incentives can be modified to distribute benefits more fairly and effectively…This could be done by limiting or capping the tax exclusion based on the value of health benefits, or as an alternative, based on a person’s income—or both.”