Transcript: Boehner And Obama On Election Results And Health Law

In the wake of the GOP victories on election night, the likely new House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner and President Barack Obama each held news conferences. The president talked about the “shellacking” he and his party took.

Here are transcripts of what both men said about the health law and the elections.  

Rep. Boehner:

(at one event) Listen, the American people are concerned about the government takeover of health care. I think it’s important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity and replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance in America.

(at another event)

Q: We know that House Republicans are pledged to repeal and replace the president’s health care reform. You’ve got an upcoming appropriations process. Do you plan to try and use that appropriations process to defund the reform law?

BOEHNER: Listen, I believe that the health care bill that was enacted by the current Congress will kill jobs in America, ruin the best health care system in the world, and bankrupt our country. That means that we have to do everything we can to try to repeal this bill and replace it with common-sense reforms that’ll bring down the cost of health insurance.

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The White House supplied a transcript of the entire presidential news conference, here are the relevant excerpts, or watch the video

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Health care — as you’re well aware, obviously, a lot of Republicans ran against your health care law. Some have called for repealing the law. I’m wondering, sir, if you believe that health care reform that you worked so hard on is in danger at this point, and whether there’s a threat, as a result of this election.


THE PRESIDENT: Well, I know that there’s some Republican candidates who won last night who feel very strongly about it. I’m sure that this will be an issue that comes up in discussions with the Republican leadership. As I said before, though, I think we’d be misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years.

With respect to the health care law, generally — and this may go to some of the questions that Savannah was raising — you know, when I talk to a woman from New Hampshire who doesn’t have to mortgage her house because she got cancer and is seeking treatment but now is able to get health insurance, when I talk to parents who are relieved that their child with a preexisting condition can now stay on their policy until they’re 26 years old and give them time to transition to find a job that will give them health insurance, or the small businesses that are now taking advantage of the tax credits that are provided — then I say to myself, this was the right thing to do.

Now, if the Republicans have ideas for how to improve our health care system, if they want to suggest modifications that would deliver faster and more effective reform to a health care system that has been wildly expensive for too many families and businesses and certainly for our federal government, I’m happy to consider some of those ideas.

You know, for example, I know one of the things that’s come up is that the 1099 provision in the health care bill appears to be too burdensome for small businesses. It just involves too much paperwork, too much filing. It’s probably counterproductive. It was designed to make sure that revenue was raised to help pay for some of the other provisions, but if it ends up just being so much trouble that small businesses find it difficult to manage, that’s something that we should take a look at.

So there are going to be examples where I think we can tweak and make improvements on the progress that we’ve made. That’s true for any significant piece of legislation.

But I don’t think that if you ask the American people, should we stop trying to close the doughnut hole that will help senior citizens get prescription drugs, should we go back to a situation where people with preexisting conditions can’t get health insurance, should we allow insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick even though you’ve been paying premiums — I don’t think that you’d have a strong vote for people saying those are provisions I want to eliminate.

Q According to some exit polls, sir, about one out of two voters apparently said that they would like to either see it overturned or repealed. Are you concerned that that may embolden voters who are from the other party perhaps?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it also means one out of two voters think it was the right thing to do. And obviously this is an issue that has been contentious. But as I said, I think what’s going to be useful is for us to go through the issues that Republicans have issues on — not sort of talking generally, but let’s talk specifics. Does this particular provision — when it comes to preexisting conditions, is this something you’re for or you’re against? Helping seniors get their prescription drugs — does that make sense or not?

And if we take that approach — which is different from campaigning — I mean, this is now governing — then I think that we can continue to make some progress and find some common ground. ….

[Y]ou said you didn’t do enough to change the way things were handled in this city. Some of — in order to get your health care bill passed you needed to make some of those deals. Do you wish, in retrospect, you had not made those deals even if it meant the collapse of the program?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that making sure that families had security and were on a trajectory to lower health care costs was absolutely critical for this country. But you are absolutely right that when you are navigating through a House and a Senate in this kind of pretty partisan environment that it’s a ugly mess when it comes to process. And I think that is something that really affected how people viewed the outcome. That is something that I regret — that we couldn’t have made the process more — healthier than it ended up being. But I think the outcome was a good one.