06.19.2015 1

The Republican Obamacare transformation

By Rick Manning

White_Flag_EstablishmentIt seems that House Republicans have gone through the looking glass over the past few weeks.  After fighting tooth and nail to give President Obama fast track trade authority, the House is now on the verge of funding Obamacare subsidies that could be struck down should the Supreme Court rule against Obama in a case known as King v. Burwell.

In King v. Burwell, the Court will decide if the Obama Administration erred when they provided subsidies to Obamacare applicants in states which did not establish state exchanges.  Should the court rule against Obama based upon the plain letter of the law, GOPers on Capitol Hill should be jumping for joy as a key element of the hated law would be stricken down, and the job of repealing it would be made much easier.

But somehow the House GOP, which has successfully held the majority since 2011 largely due to antipathy toward Obamacare, now is looking at responding by funding these subsidies permanently.

The Republican Congress has gone from demanding a defunding of Obamacare to grudgingly funding it because they had no practical alternative to proposing to own Obamacare subsidies by funding them permanently.

The campaign ads remain the same, but the will to end the federal government funding of Obamacare mandates seem to be over, crushed under the weight of an avalanche of pressure from hospitals and health insurers, which benefit from maintaining the government-run health care system.

End the subsidies and, poof, you end the guaranteed customers that Obamacare promised health care providers to offset increased costs.

And therein lies the rub.  The subsidies aren’t really anything other than pass-through funds to the very corporate monoliths who were the poster boys for those who pushed Obamacare in the first place.

CNN explains the Republican proposal as follows, “If the high court doesn’t uphold the current subsidies through the end of the year, the Republican plan would extend them through the end of 2015.

“Starting in 2016, states will get the chance to opt out of Obamacare and all of the mandates in the law and be eligible for block grants to cover those who lost their subsidies, according to the proposal. That amount will be equivalent to the subsidies the state was receiving under Obamacare.”

What major changes are they demanding in exchange for taking political ownership of Obamacare?  In a move that rivals Obama’s foreign policy negotiating skill, they are demanding and getting nothing, except Obama’s allowing them to fund his health care law.

The subsidies themselves would continue through 2017 under the plan, with the promise that this would give a new President the chance to re-make the once-loathed, but newly-embraced Affordable Care Act.

More difficult to explain than the subsidy scheme is how Republicans will contort themselves politically to justify funding Obama’s illegally-provided payments for two and a half years after spending the past three elections vilifying them.

However, for the mental gymnasts in the Republican Party, this dilemma can just be added to a laundry list of challenges ranging from funding executive amnesty and giving Obama an enormous grant of power on trade after running to rein him in, to go with this Obamacare flip-flop.

In the end, their best hope may be that Hillary gets the Democratic nomination and they can hypnotize their former base into chanting the mantra of “must stop Hillary, Benghazi, missing emails, Clinton Foundation, must stop Hillary” without thinking.

If they proceed with the health care subsidy funding scheme, they will have surrendered all moral authority to criticize the law, and instead will find themselves forced to defend it, and the Republican moth will have fully emerged transformed.

The author is president of Americans for Limited Government.

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