House Republicans on Tuesday said President Obama "knowingly misled" America and exhibited "dishonesty" Monday night, when he walked back his promise that ObamaCare would let people keep their health insurance if they like it.
But so far, none have openly said Obama "lied" Monday night, which seems to be a rhetorical red line against a sitting President that most are unwilling to cross.
In Monday night comments to Organizing for Action, his former campaign organization that is now promoting ObamaCare, Obama tried to clarify his former statements by saying, "what we said was you can keep it if it hasn't changed since the law passed."
Tuesday morning, House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE (R-Ohio) pounced on Obama's attempt to recast his earlier comments. BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE tweeted, " 'If it hasn't changed since the law was passed?' That is not what you told the American people, Mr. President."
A spokesman for Boehner, Brendan Buck, also criticized Obama for being caught in a "blatant deception" and for trying to avoid it through new deceptions. "How much contempt for the American people must one have to keep brazenly misleading them," he asked.
Over Twitter, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) responded to a story saying Obama is denying his "like it, keep it" promise by saying, "Seriously?"
Later, Westmoreland tweeted, "A new report shows that 400,000 Georgians have lost their health insurance under ObamaCare."
Rep. Diane BlackDiane BlackFight brews over forcing library to use ‘illegal alien’ Watchdog: Group broke federal law escorting women to abortion clinics Backlash to Tubman decision limited, isolated MORE (R-Tenn.) released a statement Tuesday that accused Obama of "dishonesty," but she also stopped short of saying Obama "lied."
"For years the President has made a consistent and simple promise to the American public: That under Obamacare, 'if you like your health care plan, you can keep it,' " she said. "Last night, President Obama added insult to injury to the millions of Americans losing their health insurance by brazenly telling them that he had not in fact made this promise.
"This is factually incorrect and intellectually insulting. The remedy for dishonesty is not more dishonesty, and President Obama should start showing leadership by acknowledging Obamacare's failures if he wants to maintain a shred of credibility."
Before Obama's attempt to clarify his comments on Monday, one House member did say that Obama's original pledge turned out to be a lie given the number of canceled health plans. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told Newsmax that Obama's promise was "the biggest lie in my lifetime, the biggest lie by a president in my lifetime."
One trend strengthening the GOP criticism is new legislation from Democrats that lets people keep their healthcare plan if they want. On Monday, Sens. Mary LandrieuMary Landrieu oil is changing the world and Washington Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Republican announces bid for Vitter’s seat MORE (D-La.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators to Obama: Make 'timely' call on Afghan troops levels Dem senator: Sanders ‘doesn’t have a lot of answers’ Groups urge Senate to oppose defense language on for-profit colleges MORE (D-W.Va.) proposed a bill that would allow all prior policies to stay in effect, even if they don't meet the law's new standards.
These Democrats have focused on the need to clarify the law rather than blaming Obama. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has said Obama's message was not wrong, but was "not precise enough."
On Sunday, the New York Times took a similar approach by writing that Obama "clearly misspoke" when he said you can keep your insurance if you like it, which led to criticism from the right that the Times was letting Obama off the hook for lying.
Right-leaning media has been more blunt. Writing for The Blaze, Glenn Beck asked Monday morning, "What Else is President Obama Willing to Lie About?" and Rush Limbaugh said last week that Obama's promise is the biggest "ever told by a sitting president." These comments were made before Obama's attempt to clarify his promise on Monday night.
One reason why most Republican members are dodging the word "lie" may be the experience of Rep. Joe WilsonJoe WilsonHouse GOP urges Obama to drop veto threat against defense bill Overnight Cybersecurity: Fight over feds' hacking powers moves to Congress New House caucus will help keep hackers out of cars MORE (R-S.C.), who famously yelled "You lie" to Obama during a joint session of Congress in which Obama was discussing the healthcare law. He later apologized for what he called a "lack of civility."
"This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President's remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill," Wilson said. "While I disagree with the President's statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable."