08.22.2013 1

House rebelling on Obamacare?

NobamaCareBy Nathan Mehrens

With Obamacare due to take effect in January, 2014, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is on the verge of open rebellion on the question of defunding the law’s implementation.

New legislation offered by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) would prohibit funds from being used by agencies and departments to execute the law, and would eliminate the expansion of Medicaid and the introduction of insurance subsidies under the exchanges.

With 138 cosponsors so far — and growing — House leadership is scrambling behind the scenes to placate members’ desire to be seen blocking Obamacare from taking effect.

Instead of attaching defunding language to the must-pass continuing resolution, House leaders are dangling the idea of passing a stop-gap 60-day continuing resolution, and then adding similar defunding language to a vote to increase the debt ceiling.

That might be a fine strategy if it were actually implemented. But it strains believability that House leadership ever would follow through with it.

For, if House Republicans are unwilling to risk a government shutdown to defund the health care law, what makes anyone believe they would be willing to hit the debt ceiling?

You can already see how it would play out. Using the bully pulpit, President Barack Obama would threaten to default on obligations to creditors and seniors if the debt ceiling were not raised.

House leaders would then quickly enter into backroom negotiations with the White House to pass a debt ceiling increase that still funds Obamacare. They would fold like a cheap tent.

Attaching the defunding language to the continuing resolution on the other hand does not give Obama the option to default as a tactic. If no compromise were reached, an indefinite partial government shutdown would ensue, yet essential government functions would continue to be funded.

That would give Republicans the opportunity to appeal to the American people that the health care law should not be implemented. To push back against the individual and employer mandates, against the destruction of the 40-hour work week, and against the unsustainable expansion of the entitlement state.

They would make clear they are willing to fund every bit of government — except for Obamacare — by passing appropriations bills and continuing resolutions daily to that effect.

In the meantime, non-essential government workers would be furloughed. Many offices and agencies would grind to a halt. It could go on for months.

If the Senate and Obama refuse to fund the rest of the government, it is they who will be shutting it down.

As for House Republicans, this is the last opportunity to defund the law before the individual mandate goes into effect in January, before the Medicaid expansion kicks in and before the state insurance exchange subsidies ensue. Otherwise, the health care law will go into effect and it will become permanent.

While House leadership inside the Beltway attempts to assure members that they will deal with Obamacare sometime in the future, it is unreasonable to assume that they will do anything besides cosmetic changes once millions of people are on the dole. The time to act is now.

Any Republicans who vote to fund Obamacare, will own it.

Nathan Mehrens is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

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