Boehner Tells Obama to His Face That His Health-Care Proposal Uses Tax Dollars for Abortion; Obama Dismisses Boehner’s Statement as ‘Talking Points’

February 26, 2010 01:15

Thursday, February 25, 2010
By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer

House Minority Leader John Boehner with a copy of the healthcare bill

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told President Barack Obama to his face at Thursday’s health care summit that the president’s new health care proposal, which is based on the bill approved by the Senate, would allow taxpayer-funding of health plans that cover abortion. The president did not respond directly to Boehner’s direct charge, but suggested that all that Boehner said was merely the “standard talking points” and Democrats would “profoundly disagree” with many of them.

Boehner also criticized the president’s plan for creating “a new entitlement program that will bankrupt our country” and “an employer mandate … that says that employers, you’ve got to provide health insurance to the American people, or you’re going to pay this tax.”

On the abortion issue, Boehner told Obama:  “For 30 years, we’ve had a federal law that says that we’re not going to have taxpayer funding of abortions. We’ve had this debate in the House. It was a very serious debate. But in the House, the House spoke. And the House upheld the language we have had in law for 30 years, that there will be no taxpayer funding of abortions. This bill that we have before us–and there was no reference to that issue in your outline, Mr. President—begins, for the first time in 30 years allows for the taxpayer-funding of abortions.So, Mr. President, what we’ve been saying for a long time is let’s scrap the bill. Let’s start with a clean sheet of paper on those things that we can agree with.”

In response, Obama did not directly address Boehner’s flat assertion that Obama’s proposal would use tax dollars for abortions. Instead, he accused the Republican leader of wasting the group’s time with talking points.

“John, you know, the challenge I have here–and this has happened periodically–is we’re having, every so often, we have a pretty good conversation trying to get on some specifics, and then we go back to, you know, the standard talking points that Democrats and Republicans have had for the last year,” said Obama. “And that doesn’t drive us to an agreement on issues. There are so many things that you just said that people on this side would profoundly disagree with–and I would have to say, you know, based on my analysis, just aren’t true–that I think that the conversation would start bogging down pretty quick.”

Boehner was the lone legislator to bring up abortion at the event, even though it has been a major issue in the health care reform debate. In the House health care bill that passed in November of last year, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) was included that specifically prohibits the use of federal funds for health plans that cover abortion. A similar amendment sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was not allowed to be included in the proposed Senate bill.

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