It’s the president who is threatening to shut down the government, though the media won’t cover it that way.
Few Americans are clamoring to shut down the federal government, but polls indicate that a majority of Americans agree that ObamaCare will be a disaster for their family’s health care and for the nation’s economy. So why is President Obama threatening to shut down the government if Congress sends him a year-end spending bill to fully support government operations but without funding for his (unfair, unworkable and unaffordable) health-care law?
This question is not being addressed fairly by the media, so the American people are not being told the truth about the coming political showdown over ObamaCare. Here’s what’s really happening.
The full implementation of the federal takeover of America’s health-care system is approaching the point of no return, when tens of millions of Americans will be forced to sign up for government-controlled health care beginning this fall. Virtually all Republicans in Congress have run their election campaigns promising to stop ObamaCare, and every one of them has voted to repeal it.
Democrats should have supported repeal as well, because the president’s new system will be unaffordable and unfair for many of the nation’s low-income and younger Americans. ObamaCare will likely cause insurance premiums to double or triple for the young and healthy, and lead to a decline in wages for low-income Americans due to compliance regulations and penalties on their employers.
House Speaker John Boehner stands next to a printed version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act during a news conference on Capitol Hill in May.
Yet despite all the grand speeches, votes and chest-pounding by Republicans promising to try to stop this destructive new law, none of this has required much courage so far—nor has it been effective. ObamaCare can be stopped only if Congress denies funding for it in the next spending bill, which must be passed in September. That would immediately halt the implementation of ObamaCare and fulfill a defining GOP promise to the American people. Voting for a spending bill that excludes ObamaCare will take courage and integrity.
The president has not been forthright with America about health care. He promised that people would not lose their health-care plan if they wanted to keep it, but now we know that millions will lose their current coverage. He promised that premiums would decrease, but premiums for employer-sponsored coverage have increased, on average, by $2,370 per family since 2009. The president promised that the law would be fair, but he is forcing every American to buy government-approved health-care plans while delaying that mandate for businesses and granting exemptions to members of Congress and unions.
There are some who argue that ObamaCare can’t be defunded because most of its spending is deemed “mandatory.” Their assertions are wrong. According to the Congressional Research Service, ObamaCare “administrative costs will have to be funded through the annual discretionary appropriations.” Furthermore, annual appropriations bills routinely carry funding limitations to mandatory spending and often block a wide range of potential government activities. The Hyde Amendment to a 1976 appropriation bill, for example, blocked all taxpayer funding of abortion, and has every year since 1976. Congress can disallow funding for ObamaCare and effectively stop the implementation of the law.
Yet doing that will require resolve. President Obama, along with all the Democrats, will accuse Republicans of trying to shut down the government by giving the president a spending bill that he must veto. But there is no “must” about it. If the president opts to shut down all of government instead of just ObamaCare, that will be his choice, not the wish of conservatives.
The truth is rarely a factor in today’s political battles, though. Much of the media will echo the White House talking points about Republicans shutting down the government. Seniors will be told that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy if ObamaCare is not funded, the poor will be threatened with loss of benefits—well, you know the rest.
This is why some Republican leaders and consultants are pleading with conservatives in the House and Senate not to pick a fight with the president over ObamaCare. The Republican old guard warns that any fight could jeopardize the GOP’s chances of taking the majority in the Senate in 2014 and keeping the House majority. Their do-nothing strategy? Allow ObamaCare to be fully implemented so the American people will see what a mess it is.
The problem with this logic is that once ObamaCare is fully implemented, it will destroy what’s left of our personalized, free-market health system and make it very challenging to bring affordable, high-quality health care to Americans. The bureaucracy and the costs of national health care will grow dramatically, becoming increasingly difficult to dismantle as they grow.
ObamaCare will destroy the private-insurance market, incentivize businesses to cancel current health coverage for their employees, create physician shortages, and force Americans and states into total dependency on the federal government. After all that, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the free market to resurrect a private health-care system built on doctor/patient decision-making.
So the fight to stop ObamaCare now is an urgent matter. Elected leaders in both parties should summon the courage to put their political futures on the line, because the future of America is truly on the line. Politicians who oppose ObamaCare should not vote to fund it. Those who want a socialized health-care system should vote to fund it. There is no middle ground and no place to hide.
Republicans could lose the national debate. But a failure of Republicans to show the courage of their convictions on such a fundamental issue will inspire no one and will further alienate the American people from their government. This carries far greater risks to the nation’s future than the threat of a government shutdown or the risk of losing the next election.
Mr. DeMint, a former Republican senator from South Carolina, is president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Needham is president of Heritage Action for America, a grass-roots advocacy organization.
The Only Way to Stop ObamaCare Is to Cut Off Its Funding… Congress will send him a year-end spending bill to fully support government but without funding Obamacare ! – The Constitutional Conservatives.