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Boehner Defends Early GOP Moves on Transparency, Health Care Repeal

Speaker John Boehner used his first news conference since assuming power to dismiss criticism that House Republicans aren’t making good on their promise to create a more open legislative process and cut spending.

“Well, listen, I promised a more open process. I didn’t promise that every single bill was going to be an open bill,” the Ohio Republican said, noting that during the 111th Congress when Democrats were in charge there was not a single open rule. “We have called for the repeal of the health care law and [will] replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance.”

House Republicans released an 18-page report Thursday on the economic consequences of the health care law. The report details Republicans’ beliefs that the law will not reduce the budget deficit and will result in job loss. Senate Democrats also released their own report Thursday in which they claimed House Republicans’ policies would add more than $1 trillion to the deficit.

According to the report, compiled by the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center, the combined cost of a permanent repeal of the estate tax, permanent extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for upper-income earners, repeal of the health care reform bill and tax cuts for businesses would total just more than $1 trillion.

House Republicans are planning to bring a resolution to the floor next week to instruct committees of jurisdiction to come back with ideas on what the health care law replacement should entail.

House Democrats have lashed out at Republicans for not allowing any changes to the GOP resolution to repeal the health care law that is expected to be introduced Friday.

Tea party activists have also complained that Republicans are already backtracking on promises to cut spending. The Congressional Budget Office warned on Thursday that if Republicans are successful in repealing the law, the deficit would grow by $230 billion over the next decade and the number of uninsured Americans would increase.

Boehner downplayed the CBO’s concerns.

“CBO is entitled to their opinion, but they are locked within the constraints of the 1974 Budget Act,” Boehner said. “CBO can only provide a score based on the assumptions that are given to them. If you go back and look at the health care bill and the assumptions that were given to them, you see all of the double counting that went on.”

Boehner also defended the Republicans’ rules package that would allow Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to set the budget. Democrats have argued that Republicans are pushing them out of the process. Boehner said the rule is necessary because House Democrats did not pass a budget in the 111th Congress.

“So between now and the time that a new budget is enacted by the House, someone has to set a spending limit, and under our rules we decided the chairman of the Budget Committee was in the best position to do that,” Boehner said. 

Still, he noted that the spending limits are “in effect until the new budget is enacted.”

 John Stanton contributed to this report.

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