Republicans have discovered an unlikely ally in their quest to defeat a Democratic president's health care plan: Bill Clinton.
The former president, who has Republicans to thank for the demise of his own health care proposal in the mid-90s, nonetheless delivered a neatly-packaged political gift to the GOP on Tuesday. In an interview with the digital magazine OZY.com, Clinton, asked about Obamacare's rocky rollout, concluded: "I personally believe even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got."
Clinton's rebuke is the latest headache for an Obama administration that has been besieged with criticism -- from both sides of the aisle -- over the ugly implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
On the flip side, Clinton's remarks provided a convenient rallying point for congressional Republicans committed to dismantling Obamacare piece by piece. In fact, the timing of Clinton's remarks couldn't be better: House Republican leadership has planned a vote this week on the "Keep Your Health Plan Act," which would allow Obamacare's "grandfathering" rule to apply to any health care plan that existed prior to January 2013. One Democrat, Rep. John Barrow of Georgia, has already pledged support for the measure, and Clinton's comments make it all the likelier that Democrats will see additional defections when the vote occurs on Friday.
To that end, GOP leadership wasted no time seizing on Clinton's remarks. "I applaud President Clinton for joining the bipartisan call for President Obama to keep his promise to the American people. These comments signify a growing recognition that Americans were misled when they were promised that they could keep their coverage under President Obama's health care law," Speaker John Boehner said in a Tuesday afternoon statement that ended thusly: "President Clinton understood that governing in a divided Washington requires a focus on common ground, and I hope President Obama will follow the former president's lead."
Boehner was joined by the Republican National Committee and several powerful conservative outside groups -- including the Club for Growth -- in blasting out Clinton's remarks Tuesday. Whether coordinated or not, the campaign caught on quickly, and by mid-afternoon dozens of Republican lawmakers were tweeting their unlikely alliance with the former president whose health care philosophy they loved to hate. Some highlights:
Even President Clinton says Obama Admin should "honor the commitment" and let people keep their health insurance http://t.co/MpkuKXLikB— Rep. Paul Gosar, DDS (@RepGosar) November 12, 2013
One of the rare times I agree with the former president.//Bill Clinton: Let people keep health plans http://t.co/kN7EGJ272w— RepKevinBrady (@RepKevinBrady) November 12, 2013
Former Pres. Bill Clinton is now weighing in on the Obamacare debacle. He says let consumers keep existing plans. http://t.co/9uFKMUfcDa— David B. McKinley (@RepMcKinley) November 12, 2013
A promise is a promise: if you like your health care plan, you should be able to keep it. RT if you agree with us and President Bill Clinton— Blake Farenthold (@farenthold) November 12, 2013