09.03.2013 1

Still time to keep the pledge to defund Obamacare

KeepthePledgeBy Robert Romano

This week the House of Representatives remains in recess for a so-called “constituent work week,” one of 18 such weeks scheduled in 2013 when members work out of their district offices, presumably to hear from those they purport to represent.

It is just as well that the House Republican majority takes a little extra time off after the August recess and Labor Day, as so little has been accomplished in Washington, D.C. anyway, particularly to undo the disastrous Obamacare that is set to take effect in 2014.

Forgotten now is the 2010 “Pledge to America,” when Republicans promised to “fight efforts to fund the costly health care law.”

Public opposition to Obamacare was one of the primary reasons Republicans reclaimed the House majority in 2010, and retained it in 2012. They promised they would get rid of it.

Yet, every single continuing resolution and debt ceiling increase Republicans have supported since they took control of the House has funded the health care law.

Now, in January 2014, some of the most important parts of the law will go into effect, including the individual and employer mandates, the Medicaid expansion, and the insurance subsidies under the state exchanges.

In the meantime, Republicans have taken dozens of symbolic votes to repeal the law, only to be stonewalled in the Senate and threatened with a veto by the White House. Symbolism is nice, but one has to wonder where the GOP’s urgency is.

Legislation by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) has attracted 138 cosponsors, but so far, House leadership including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor refuse to offer their support.

Are they only willing to fight if and when it can achieve 60 votes in the Senate, and have reclaimed the White House, starting in 2017 the earliest?

If so, by that time, it might be too late. There could be up to 23 million new enrollees in Medicaid based on the new eligibility guidelines under the law, and perhaps as many as 50 million receiving subsidies via the exchanges.

This is a brand new political constituency that is being created by the law — and Republicans will have nothing to offer them, Democrats will argue, only health benefits to take away.

Is waiting to act then a winning political strategy, or a suicide pact?

This leaves Republicans with a choice. To either let Obamacare go into effect, hope Americans hate it and reward Republicans with majorities sufficient to undo the damage, or to defund it now before it takes effect even if it means a government shutdown.

After all, once the subsidies start being doled out, it may end up being almost impossible to be rid of them.

If Republicans wait until after Obama’s second term is over to act, the discussion will undoubtedly shift dramatically from whether or not to implement the law to how best to boost the subsidies that are in place.

Meaning, we’ll never get rid of Obamacare.

Doing nothing now while there is still time then is the same thing as tacit consent. If Republicans do not defund Obamacare, they will own it.

So, it’s either fight now, or surrender.

Just as it was hard for Mitt Romney in 2012 to argue against the individual mandate to purchase health insurance — he had approved it as Governor of Massachusetts in his health care reform — so too will House Republicans have a hard time making the case in 2014 against a law they have been instrumental in helping implement.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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