09.11.2013 1

House Republicans all set to fund Obamacare

CantortoFundObamacareBy Robert Romano

Sometimes you have to wonder why they even bother.

A new proposal by House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that purports to defund Obamacare will do exactly the opposite. It will guarantee that it is funded, meanwhile providing political cover to elected leaders who can claim they did everything they could to stop implementation of the law.

The plan calls for passing a clean continuing resolution as soon as this Thursday, and then passing a separate resolution that would “defund” the health care law. In the meantime, the rule that brings the bill to the floor will allow the Senate to ignore the defunding bill and simply pass the continuing resolution that funds Obamacare.

The bill would then go to President Barack Obama for his signature, not back to the House of Representatives as under traditional, constitutional order when the House and Senate pass differing versions of the same legislation.

In short, it’s a gimmick. And a sellout.

In 2010, when Republicans won the House majority, in the Pledge to America they promised to “fight efforts to fund the costly health care law.” They also promised to “give all Representatives and citizens at least three days to read the bill before a vote,” but with a vote expected Thursday, Sept. 12, and language having only been made available on Sept. 10, they apparently won’t be keeping that pledge, either.

“This is an insult to the intelligence of the American people,” said Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens. “Separately passing a defunding Obamacare measure not tied to the continuing resolution that can simply be decoupled by the Senate is a useless gesture that does not merit serious consideration.”

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola was no less adamant against the resolution, all but calling it deceptive: “Trying to fool Republicans into voting to fund Obamacare is even worse than offering a bill that deliberately funds it.”

Chocola is right. If House Republicans want to fund Obamacare, they should just go ahead and do it. At least that would be honest. Instead, they are hiding behind parliamentary tricks to evade accountability for an outcome they are directly responsible for.

Every member of the House would be well-advised that a vote in favor of this continuing resolution, and the rule that brings it the floor, is a vote to fund Obamacare.

Adding insult to injury, the legislation is not as “clean” as advertised. It also partially rolls back sequestration budget cuts on the defense side of the budget that were promised in return for the $2.1 trillion increase of the debt ceiling, that largest such hike in U.S. history, an analysis by the Center for American Progress shows.

All told, this will be a scarlet letter emblazoned on every member who votes “yes” as the House stands for reelection in 2014. It will encourage primary challenges.

It cedes the moral authority on the health care issue, and if it succeeds, it could result in a change in House leadership. The stakes could not be higher politically for Republicans.

But they are even higher for the American people who are being forced into a government-run health care system. On that count, this is do or die.

If the House fails to defund Obamacare this year, it is doubtful we will ever get rid of it in 2014 and beyond when taxpayer insurance subsidies for up to 80 million Americans through Medicaid or the state insurance exchanges. Every election after this will be about not defunding Obamacare subsidies, but how those subsidies should be expanded.

Just look down the road.

Even if Republicans reclaim the Senate next year, because they are unwilling to face a government shutdown and will lack the votes to override a certain Obama veto, they will be unable to defund the law in 2015 or 2016 either.

Meaning the American people will be stuck with it, all the way through the next presidential election cycle. Then, there will be tens of millions of Americans newly dependent on the government for all issues covering life and death, a brand new political constituency Republicans will be unwilling to take on.

Come 2017, it will be over. Obamacare will become permanent.

That is why now is the time to act — before it is too late. If Republicans intend on taking a stand, now is the time.

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

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