08.22.2014 0

Was defund Obamacare really a ‘suicide mission’?


By Robert Romano

“It was a suicide mission.”

That was House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), commenting in a new book on the ill-fated 2013 effort to defund Obamacare by the House of Representatives that led to a partial government shutdown for a couple of weeks.

But was it really a suicide mission? Or was it simply the nation’s last chance to stop the health care law before it took effect?

Ultimately, Congress passed a continuing resolution and raised the debt ceiling, the government reopened, and despite early hiccups, the law was implemented.

So, let’s consider the current landscape of Obamacare.

Just a couple of weeks after the government shutdown, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer — who opposed the defund effort at the time and called it “suicide” — predicted that “Obamacare is going to collapse on its own.”

Then, Krauthammer was suggesting that because the law was forcing millions of people in the individual market to switch plans, and Obama had promised this would not be so, that the law’s contradictions would be its undoing.

But almost a year later now, are we actually any closer to being rid of it? Or is it locked in?

Let’s look at the facts.

Everyone knows that Healthcare.gov got off to a rocky start, but did you know that since then, 9 million people have signed up on the exchanges, 7.8 million of whom have paid, according to Acasignups.net.

That’s actually more than the 7 million Congressional Budget Office predicted would sign up in 2014.

Yes, millions of policies were cancelled because they did not comply with the law, but most of those simply switched to plans that did.

So, how is it collapsing?

Probably not what opponents of the law want to hear, but the reality is they need to hear it.

The fact is, more than 80 million Americans aged 26 to 64 years old making less than $46,000 who were not already on Medicaid now qualify for Obamacare, whether through Medicaid or the insurance exchanges, based on data from the U.S. Census and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Sure, some states are not implementing the Medicaid expansion, but many states are. If folks want to sign up, the only thing that’s preventing them in many cases is their feet.

The truth is, Obamacare has not gone anywhere, and likely will not go anywhere anytime soon.

In a December 2013 interview with CBS News touting the Ryan-Murray budget agreement — the deal that was supposed to usher in a new era of bipartisanship yet predictably 9 months later there is still no budget — Paul Ryan reminded viewers that “In divided government, you don’t get all the things you want.”

Well, guess what? In 2015, even if Republicans hold the House and reclaim the Senate, there will still be divided government. Obama will still be in the White House. That takes us out to 2017 the earliest when something can be done about Obamacare, if we take Ryan at his word.

In fact, government, with rare exceptions in recent history, is usually divided. Thanks to unlimited debate in the Senate, it is virtually impossible to pass major pieces of legislation without 60 votes in the Senate. Yet at no time since the advent of Rule XXII establishing cloture in the Senate 97 years ago have Republicans ever had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and every Democrat is virtually guaranteed to vote against any Obamacare repeal.

Therefore, unless Republicans are willing to fight, at some point, even with divided government, to repeal this law, and conceivably even endure a temporary government shutdown, we’ll probably never get rid of it.

The only remaining question is whether the GOP will be willing to take on the 80 million Americans now eligible to receive Obamacare subsidies, or if the law actually has created a political constituency all but guaranteeing the law is never repealed once fully implemented.

If Republicans were not willing to stop the law before it went into effect, what makes anyone think they’re going to cut everyone’s subsidies when they know that just two years later, another election is waiting for them.

If Ryan and the Republicans truly viewed the 2013 defund mission as suicidal, then imagine their reaction to taking on those 80 million entitled Obamacare recipients.

Maybe Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) were on to something after all.

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

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