09.19.2013 0

House presents plan to defund Obamacare, but do they mean it?

paperelephantBy Robert Romano

House leadership on Sept. 18 presented a continuing resolution that will defund Obamacare in full. The move came after an abortive attempt to pass two bills, one that funded the government, and one that defunded Obamacare — effectively giving the Senate the option to bypass the defund bill.

More or less, that’s a victory for House conservatives, who under the leadership of Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) have been demanding that defunding language be tied to the continuing resolution.

But does House leadership really mean it? Anticipating that the proposal might not be all that serious, Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens commented, “If the plan is to just send this continuing resolution to the Senate to die, then that is unacceptable.”

Now it looks like that might be the plan after all.

According to Slate.com’s David Weigel, although the plan presented to House Republican conference members would indeed call for a vote on a defunding continuing resolution, it also contemplates a complete failure of the approach in the Senate.

For, after the Senate, as expected, defeats the measure, the House would then “Grudgingly pass a CR that funds Obamacare after all. This might mean a rump of Republicans join the mass of Democrats,” writes Weigel.

In other words, the House’s vote to defund Obamacare would be no more effective than its 40 prior votes to repeal the law. Simply unbelievable.

If that’s what was indeed presented to House Republicans, this would be simply a repeat of the Cut, Cap, and Balance fiasco of July 2011.

One will recall that in exchange for raising the debt ceiling, House Republicans presented a united front that would institute immediate spending cuts, enact into law statutory spending caps, and require passage of balanced budget amendment to the Federal Constitution.

But they never really meant it. They passed it, and then two days later the Senate voted to table it, effectively killing it. After that, Cut, Cap, and Balance was forgotten, discarded to side. Never really a sincere proposal to begin with.

Instead, on the debt ceiling, we got the failed Supercommittee, but thankfully, sequestration, which has resulted in real savings for taxpayers. It wasn’t a total loss, but nowhere near what might have been achieved if the House had stuck to Cut, Cap, and Balance.

For, by advertising openly that the defund Obamacare continuing resolution is not a real line in the sand, and that leadership plans to discard just as soon as the Senate kills it, House leadership is exposing the weakness of its own negotiating position.

Pressing the point, at a news conference, House Speaker John Boehner essentially pushed responsibility off on the Senate to kill the measure: “It’s time for the Senate to have this fight.”

ALG’s Mehrens has a better idea: “When the Senate responds with a so-called ‘clean’ continuing resolution, the House needs to respond with another bill that funds the government except for Obamacare. If Obama and Reid want to shut down the government, that’s their choice.”

Then, at least, House Republicans could negotiate from a position of strength, escalating their efforts with each vote on a new continuing resolution. The first could reduce food stamps, the second could defund the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon endangerment finding, and so forth. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will get the message.

That is how you deal with a school yard bully, not cave into his demands, as Boehner and company appear prepared to do with Reid. The Senate may not even present any alternative to Republicans.

In 2011, when House Republicans presented Cut, Cap, and Balance, Reid tabled it in the Senate, and killed subsequent measures that would have raised the debt ceiling in an attempt to back Republicans into a corner. Now, it appears the same thing is going to happen again, leaving Republicans to negotiate with themselves. That is why they must hold firm.

Attaching language to the continuing resolution that defunds the health care law is a great idea. Americans for Limited Government has supported passage of just such a plan for weeks.

For, it is the only plan that might get rid of this law before it goes in effect. The only plan that will defund in full the Medicaid expansion and the insurance subsidies under the state exchanges. The only plan that will prevent the destruction of the 40-hour work week. The only plan that will keep the best health care system in the world, and keep you on your insurance policy of choice.

But the only way it will work is if the House stay resolved to see it through, even in the face of a government shutdown. When Harry Reid and the Senate rejects this continuing resolution, the House must respond with more continuing resolutions that defund Obamacare.

Members should beware that any approach that ultimately allows Obamacare funding to go into effect is unacceptable. Simply sending the defund Obamacare bill to the Senate to die is not an option.

In the end, any member that votes for continuing resolution that funds Obamacare will own it.

This is do or die. If the law is allowed to take effect, we’ll never get rid of it. It will become permanent. This is the House’s last chance to act. Using the debt ceiling won’t work. Obama has already said he won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling, and we already know Republicans are unwilling to risk a default.

If House Republicans cave on the continuing resolution, they’ll be little more than a paper tiger — or better yet a paper elephant — when it comes to the debt ceiling. And then we’ll be stuck with Obamacare.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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