The most important legislative goal for conservatives is to fully repeal Obamacare. If we’ve learned anything from past experiences, it’s that no government entitlement program is ever repealed once the dependency takes root. Once Obamacare is implemented, any discussion of enacting entitlement reform will be moot. It will be too late. That’s why we must act before we run out of time.
By now, we are all intimately acquainted with the bromide that “Republican’s only control one-half of one-third of government.” Nonetheless, we must remember that, in the realm of appropriations, they control the most consequential body of government, the House of Representatives. While Republicans will need control over all branches of government in order to statutorily repeal Obamacare, they can defund the law before the end of the fiscal year by merely sticking to their budget and refusing to negotiate with the Democrat Senate, which has not passed a budget in over 1000 days.
At present, the Republicans’ FY 2013 budget contains no funding for Obamacare or for its implementation. Next week, the House will consider the Financial Services bill, H.R. 6020, which funds the IRS. Obama’s request for an additional $1 billion to fund Obamacare has rightfully been denied by the committee-passed bill. In addition, as noted in The Hill, the bill “prohibits the IRS from receiving transfers from the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”
This is a good move. Undoubtedly, the HHS-Labor bill will also defund the Obamacare exchanges. But the real question is this: will Republicans cave to pressure at the end of the fiscal year and agree to fund Obamacare, like they did last year? Is this just window dressing to placate conservatives?
Last year, after much fanfare surrounding passage of the Ryan budget, Republicans caved on one budget battle after another, effectively abrogating every tenet of the budget – including its treatment of Obamacare. Ultimately, they agreed to pass Harry Reid’s omnibus bill, which continued to fund Obamacare.
Part of the rationale for agreeing to fund Obamacare at the time was that many Republicans believed the Supreme Court would strike it down. It just wasn’t worth forcing a shut down. Well, that didn’t happen. The law is set to take effect if we don’t act immediately.
Now you will hear many Republicans promise to repeal it next year when Romney wins the White House and Republicans take back the Senate. That is certainly our most important goal at this point. However, there are too many hypotheticals involved in that scenario. What if Romney loses? What if Republicans fail to win 51 seats? What if the parliamentarian rules that parts of the law, such as guarantee issue and community rating cannot be repealed via budget reconciliation? What if several of the members, including the likes of Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski balk at using reconciliation to repeal the full law?
A couple of Senate candidates are already running to the left and trashing the Ryan budget in order to win. Moreover, there are a number of GOP senators who unabashedly support the pre-existing conditions and slacker mandates, which are set to take effect at the beginning of the year. Are we to trust them with repeal of those sacred provisions after they are already in place? We simply cannot let this thing stand and hope for repeal next year. It certainly won’t happen if Mitch McConnell continues to serve as GOP leader. We must defund it now, while continuing to fight for full repeal.
The longer this monster survives and the longer its perceived front-loaded benefits begin to actualize and create dependency, the harder it will be to repeal. Yet, at present, there is nothing more politically unpopular than Obamacare. If Democrats want to shut down the government in order to demand funding for Obamacare, that is a fight we should welcome.