Bill Bennett engaged in a fine discussion of strategy on his radio talk show recently. Marc Thiessen, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, came on Bill’s Morning in America show to directly contradict the host.
Well, this is interesting. Bennett understandably made the point that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives needed to show that ballots do make a difference. Elections have consequences — and are supposed to. Bennett urged the new Republican majority to begin the process of repealing Obamacare — dismantling this monster legislation, piece by piece if necessary.
Bill Bennett is surely right to make the point, over and over, that when the American people rise up — as they did last November — and make a strong statement, those whom they elect must remain true to the people who sent them to Washington.
Too often in the past, fiery populists on the campaign trail have settled in inside the Washington Beltway and started to do what the Washington Post wants them to do: they grow. That is, they become more liberal. In contemporary terms, they come from the TEA party — piping hot — and they let that tea get cold here in the capital.
The people spoke loud and clear: They want Obamacare repealed. Not tweaked. Not improved. No rouge on this pig’s snout will change the underlying assault on our Constitution and our liberties that Obamacare represents. Repealed means repealed.
Marc Thiessen illustrated his point in a column in the Washington Post. Thiessen showed how getting Republicans to join with Democrats in repealing the onerous “1099 provision” of Obamacare was actually not a good thing. Thiessen explained that that provision required every small business, every big business, to submit an IRS form 1099 for every transaction over $600! Talk about a job-killing regulation. Talk about unnecessary paperwork. Talk about government control of the economy.
But — and this is a big BUT — with the overwhelming vote to repeal the 1099 provision, Obamacare becomes for some businesses not so bad. Maybe, many will tell themselves, they can live with it.
What that little repeal leaves in place should be of grave concern to tens of millions of Americans. It leaves in place abortion funding. It leaves in place no protections for the consciences of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. It leaves in place the dreaded prospect of health care rationing.
Even worse, the more we “tinker” with Obamacare on Capitol Hill, the more we jeopardize the judicial strategy for stopping this unconstitutional assault in the courts.
Judge Vinson in Florida has already ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. And he said that this provision is not “severable” from the rest of this legislative Rube Goldberg contraption. If the feds can’t force you into this thing, the whole thing comes crashing down — like the bottom can in a soup can pyramid at your local supermarket.
There is a very good chance that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down Obamacare. They certainly should strike it down. There’s even a chance that Elena Kagan will have to recuse herself, since it’s hardly likely that she didn’t have her fingers in that pie when she served as President Obama’s top legal adviser.
If Congress messes with Obamacare, it will weaken the opposition and make more difficult a reversal in the courts. We need 26 states objecting, and objecting strenuously to a law that would make the states mere administrative units of the federal government. More than 26 states would be even better.
So, what should the House majority do? De-fund it. Take away the money without which Obamacare comes to a screeching halt. No money means no mandates, no directives, no regulations. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is empowered by this legislation to make thousands of decisions about our health care. The phrase, “as the Secretary shall direct,” is sprinkled throughout this horror of a bill. She was the most pro-abortion governor in U.S. history. Sebelius is the “she who must be obeyed.” Without federal funding, she will be de-fanged.
So there’s plenty that Congress can do. Not a penny can be spent unless the House of Representatives approves. This is where the new majority can and should take a strong stand. This is how to show the voters that their representatives remember their promises and keep their word. This is how we keep the TEA piping hot!
Marc Thiessen told Bill Bennett not to “sweeten the hemlock.” He rightly calls Obamacare political suicide. I agree. So did Bill Bennett. It’s rare to see a public man yield with such grace and such integrity to the force of a better argument; it’s rarer still to see him do it in public. Good for Bennett. In joining the Rally for Repeal, Bill Bennett showed us why his show’s motto is: intelligence, candor, and goodwill.
Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are Senior Fellows with the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.