Many Americans have been thinking out loud about the best way to get rid of ObamaCare, concerned that if not done soon, it will become another permanent costly entitlement program.
The Club for Growth has rightly called for repealing ObamaCare and dozens of states have rightly filed constitutional challenges, yet neither option is guaranteed to succeed and may take years to accomplish. There is a more immediate and pragmatic way to stop ObamaCare before repealing and replacing it: De-fund it.
Most of ObamaCare’s provisions don’t kick in until 2014, shedding light on Congress’ true sense of urgency to give coverage to the uninsured and magically reduce costs for the insured. However, before then they will have to appropriate billions of dollars in discretionary spending necessary to implement the law.
In a March 15letter, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote it “would be essential for implementing the legislation” that Congress appropriate between $10 billion-$20 billion just to the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Health and Human Services. The CBO also listed dozens of authorized line-items that would have to be appropriated for implementation, bringing the total projected cost of implementation to $50 billion.
If a majority in either chamber of Congress commits to stopping these discretionary appropriations, then they can effectively stop the implementation of ObamaCare before fully repealing and replacing it.
Such a majority can ensure the de-funding of the law through two methods:
- Exclude appropriations for the explicitly authorized line-items, and
- Include a provision in all relevant appropriations bills that no money may be spent for implementing the law to protect against funding its implicit authorizations.
Lost in the debate over ObamaCare is the fact that it was an authorization bill, not an appropriations bill. Two fundamental powers that our Constitution gives Congress are authorizing government programs and appropriating money for authorized programs.
Each year Congress has to exercise the power of the purse, deciding whether or not to appropriate funds for previously authorized programs. In Federalist Paper 58 James Madison, “Father of the Constitution”, affirmed the legitimacy of utilizing this power, writing that it is “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance.”
Recent elections and polling strongly indicate that the American people have a grievance against ObamaCare that they would like to redress.
In this last year’s state-wide elections voters awarded victories to candidates firmly and publicly opposed to ObamaCare. Republican Sen. Scott Brown won in the heavily Democratic state of Massachusetts against a bill for which his predecessor was the principal architect, while Govs. Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell won sound victories in the swing states of New Jersey and Virginia that voted for President Obama in the prior election.
Countless public opinion polls demonstrate overwhelming opposition to ObamaCare, with even higher opposition developing since its passage. A May 3 Rasmussen Reports survey found that only 38 percent believe the law will be good for the country, as opposed to 54 percent supporting its repeal.
It is abundantly clear the American people don’t want ObamaCare. Congress should be true public servants and grant them their wish.
De-funding ObamaCare will stop the law’s implementation and is the first step toward repealing it and replacing it with common sense, free-market solutions that have proven to be successful and the American people actually want.
Alex Cortes is the Chairman of the newly-created Restore the Dream Foundation whose first project DeFundIt.org is advocating for the de-funding of the health care reform law.