House GOP leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE (Ohio) went on the offensive Tuesday against an event in which President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden: Democrats' spending plan is 'a bigger darn deal' than Obamacare Harris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia Biden to stump with McAuliffe Tuesday MORE will promote his signature healthcare reform law to seniors.
BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE ridiculed an online town hall the president will hold Tuesday morning as little more than a "glitzy PR campaign" to repackage the healthcare bill Obama signed in March.
"Out-of-touch Washington Democrats’ problem isn’t the sales pitch for ObamaCare – the problem is ObamaCare itself," Boehner said. "The American people don’t want the higher taxes, higher costs, Medicare cuts, and payoffs to Washington special interests.”
The White House has been promoting the online town hall at a senior center in Maryland as an opportunity to convey the benefits of the reforms for elderly Americans. At the top of the list, the new healthcare law closes the "doughnut hole" in seniors' prescription drug coverage, including a $250 rebate check that the president will promote this morning.
But Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), lambasted the rebate and Democrats' healthcare reform efforts as a whole.
"The centerpiece of today’s event is a $250 rebate check that the administration will pass out to the fraction of seniors on Medicare who qualifies for it," McConnell said Tuesday morning on the Senate floor. "What the administration won’t mention at today’s event, however, is that for every senior who gets a check, more than three other seniors will see an increase in their prescription drug insurance premiums."
The "pre-buttal" to the administration's town hall comes against a backdrop in which Republicans believe it will be to their advantage to stress the unpopular aspects of healthcare reform to voters in the midterm elections. Boehner has previously said that repealing parts of the healthcare law and replacing them with GOP alternatives would be a top priority if Republicans take back control of Congress this fall.
But Obama's own pollster is arguing that those pledges could backfire, writing in a memo to Democrats last week that voters are "becoming increasingly comfortable with the law" as "misinformation" about the bill recedes.
But Boehner's office marshaled polls and news clips arguing the unpopularity of the reform law and its impact on Obama and Democrats' popularity, setting the stage for a contentious election-year battle over the president's signature first-term accomplishment.
Update, 12:28 p.m.: Doug Thornell, a spokesman for Assistant to the Speaker Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), shot back:
This is just more of the same from Washington Republicans who sound more like right wing radio hosts than legislators trying to solve problems. The GOP voted last year to dismantle Medicare and spent years hoping it would “wither on the vine.” If they implement their unpopular and radical plan to repeal health reform, seniors caught in the GOP created donut hole won’t see any relief. This is a record no taxpayer funded listening tour will fix.