Deroy Murdock: Republicans should defund Obamacare now
Congress possesses the power of the purse, but only if it wields it. And it should do so to defund Obamacare before this medical Godzilla grows larger and more ferocious.
Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas are leading a valiant effort to pass legislation in September that will finance the federal government, as is, but zero out Obamacare, officially called the Affordable Care Act. Short of repeal, which President Barack Obama would veto, this may be the last exit before Obamacare's New Year's Day implementation. Once this beast is unleashed, its fire-breathing destruction could become uncontainable.
This initiative, headquartered online at DontFundObamacare.com, arrives just as Obamacare's critics have reached a crescendo.
"One major problem is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB is essentially a health care rationing body. ... The IPAB will cause frustration to providers and patients alike, and it will fail to control costs."
Was that Rush Limbaugh? Glenn Beck?
Thus wrote former presidential candidate and Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, M.D., in July 29's Wall Street Journal. He likes aspects of Obamacare, but considers the board a clinical wrecking ball.
Obamacare "will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class." So goes an open letter by the chiefs of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE. These three labor unions represent some 2.8 million workers.
Even as it paces its cage, Obamacare already is wreaking havoc.
"One thing that we hear in the commentary that we get ... is that some employers are hiring part time in order to avoid the mandate" for insuring staffers who work more than 30 hours weekly, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified July 17 on Capitol Hill.
This worrisome trend dominated June's employment figures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, part-time jobs rose by 360,000, while full-time positions fell by 240,000.
The term "Affordable Care Act" has become a sick punch line.
Maryland expects individual-market premiums to rise in 2014, up to 25 percent. Ohioans are bracing for analogous hikes averaging 88 percent. Forbes columnist Avik Roy calculates that a typical, nonsmoking 25-year-old California man will see his rates surge between 100 and 123 percent. Coverage for a similar 40-year-old will cost 116 percent more next year.
Because Obamacare's 2010-2019 expenses were back loaded (to ease congressional passage), its initial 10-year price tag was $940 billion. However, the Congressional Budget Office's 2014-2023 forecast incorporates four years of actual operations. Thus, Obamacare's latest 10-year estimate is $1.8 trillion — double the initial sticker price.
Meanwhile, Obamacare's popularity slip slides away. CBSNews.com's Amanda Cochran observed July 24 that 54 percent of adults disapprove of Obamacare, while only 36 percent embrace it. A mere 13 percent believe the program will "help me," while 38 percent think it will "hurt me."
Amid Obamacare's smoldering rubble, it is irritating that GOP senators such as North Carolina's Richard Burr and Oklahoma's stalwart Tom Coburn spurn this defunding bid. Imagine: If Republicans organized a proper anti-Obamacare parade, a deeply disenchanted public just might march with the GOP.
So long as the employer mandate is frozen until Jan. 1, 2015 (rather than 2014), Republicans should echo Lee's flawlessly logical argument: "If the administration will not enforce the law as written, then the American people should not be forced to fund it."
This strategy need not trigger a messy government shutdown. Lee wants to fund the budget, absent Obamacare. The House should consider similar language and make Democrats declare whether or not they still love this monster. Senate Democrats likewise should choose sides.
If this measure reaches Obama's desk, let him decide: "Do I keep Washington running as is, sans Obamacare money, or will my veto force Congress to keep Obamacare alive, even though everyone sees its rotting fangs and hideous, wart-encrusted hide?"
Come on, Republicans: Make Obama and the Democrats sweat!
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service, a Fox News contributor and a media fellow with Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. His email is Deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.