Championing an effort that is long overdue, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are leading a fight to put teeth into the cause of dismantling Obamacare. An effort that is ostensibly backed by every GOP member of Congress given the thirty odd votes the House of Representatives has taken to repeal Obamacare, Senators Cruz and Lee are exerting the only leverage available to Members of Congress, especially those whose party holds the majority in only one House of Congress: the power of the purse.
What is striking is the resistance Senators Cruz and Lee have received, not from Democrats, but from Republicans. Self-described budget hawk Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) declared the campaign to defund Obamacare to be “dishonest” and “hype”. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) called the effort “silly” and lacking “courage”. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) likened the effort to defund Obamacare to a “temper tantrum” and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) suggested that such an effort was the “dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.” Sen. Burr’s comment is truly ironic because his spokesman reminds journalists of the several stand-alone bills the Senator has co-sponsored seeking to repeal Obamacare, bills that have never and will never receive a vote in a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate. Senate Minority Whip and former National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) was an original signatory to Sen. Lee’s letter pledging not to vote for a spending bill that continues to fund Obamacare. However, Sen. Cornyn has since removed his name from the letter despite claiming to support the full repeal of Obamacare on his campaign re-election website and hiring a grassroots Tea Party activist to run his re-election campaign.
One reason proffered for why defunding Obamacare is a fool’s errand is that the continuing resolution re-authorizing government spending at the end of September contains proportionally little spending on Obamacare. Perhaps. However, as Erick Erickson notes in RedState, there is nothing preventing Congress from attaching a rider to a continuing resolution rescinding subsidies for state exchanges and rescinding funding for Medicaid expansion. Further, there are considerable administrative and implementation costs yet to be incurred at the IRS and HHS that can be curtailed.
A second reason proffered is that President Obama will never sign a law curtailing his signature legislative accomplishment. Again, perhaps. However, with more Americans continuing to look disfavorably on Obamacare than ever before, it is incumbent upon Republicans to continue to make the case for why it should be repealed or curtailed. As Senator Cruz has said, Republicans “will lose 100% of the battles they begin by surrendering.” Further as Senator Lee points out, even President Obama has admitted that Obamacare is not ready for “prime time” by illegally delaying the employer mandate and choosing to selectively enforce the law. Consequently, since this selective enforcement benefits large businesses at the expense of individual consumers, Senator Lee argues that Congress should not reward this inequity by continuing to fund the implementation of the law.
Prominent Republican operatives like Karl Rove remain unconvinced by these arguments. Therefore the question remains, where do they draw the line? In National Review Online and on The Freedomcast, John Fund details the potential horrors of the new Federal Data Hub meant to combine the databases of several federal government agencies in order to help implement Obamacare. This data hub will be accessed by tens of thousands of Obama’s community activist supporters who will be permitted to view the confidential health and financial information of millions of Americans. If you are concerned about the abuses resulting from the recent IRS scandal, the Federal Data Hub has the potential to create abuses of that magnitude on steroids! Remember 2010 Delaware Republican U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell? Her tax records were accessed improperly by an unknown Delaware state official during a heated campaign season. Get ready for much more of that during the next election cycle.
Further, John Fund notes that contractors will not be subject to criminal background checks or be required to have earned high school diplomas. I imagine Karl Rove has confidence that President Obama will prevent felons convicted of fraud and identity theft from abusing their access to his confidential financial information or groups like Wikileaks from posting his confidential health records on the internet for all the world to see. If Republicans are unwilling to draw a line in the sand and defund the entirety of Obamacare, perhaps they might at least draw a line in the sand and defund the Federal Data Hub. Surely Congressional Republicans are able to articulate the inherent horrors of the Federal Data Hub and force President Obama and Congressional Democrats to explain their willingness to shut down the federal government over their insistence to fund this program.
As Senators Cruz and Lee have explained, the travesty of Obamacare is not just its effect on our health insurance market and our health care delivery system but on the broader economy. Obamacare is responsible for the largest expansion of part-time employment at the expense of full-time employment in our nation’s history and our lowest employment participation rate in decades. Even an Obamacare information call center in California is being staffed with part-time employees so as to avoid the requirement of having to provide these individuals with health insurance. Bankrupt cities like Detroit and near bankrupt municipalities across the nation are contemplating easing their financial burdens by dumping their employees into the health insurance exchanges thereby forcing federal taxpayers to subsidize the poor financial management of states and municipalities. Surely, Congressional Republicans can defend their decision to defund Obamacare by explaining how the law has contributed to persistently high unemployment.
The question remains, why are Congressional Republicans who claim to oppose Obamacare unwilling to stand tall and support this effort to defund the law? Perhaps the answer lies in a letter signed by over one hundred GOP donors urging Congress to pass so-called comprehensive immigration reform. Congressional Republicans seem so concerned that the possibility of a protracted fight with the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats over the budget might upset the possibility of passing a legislative priority for their donor base, that they have ignored the outcry from their voter base.
As Senator Cruz explained, this may be the last best chance to defund Obamacare before it goes into effect as President Obama’s strategy is to enroll as many people as possible getting them “addicted to the sugar” of subsidies. In fact, the Obama administration has announced that it will not verify income and rely on the honor system when determining whether new enrollees qualify for subsidies.
Americans need to let their voices be heard by calling their Members of Congress 202-224-3121, attending their townhall meetings http://congress.freedomworks.org/districtoffices and signing the petition not to fund Obamacare http://www.dontfundobamacare.com/. As of this writing, the petition has nearly 200,000 signatures!
Paraphrasing Martin Luther King, Senator Coburn once said, “Cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right?” Help Congress find its conscience!