The problem with repealing Obamacare is that every bill passed by the Republican-led House dies on the vine in the Senate.
Recent sobering revelations about the Affordable Care Act’s implementation make it crystal clear that this law is deeply flawed and will wreak havoc on citizens and the federal budget. But Senate Democrats under Majority Leader Harry Reid make sure that no legislation from the House, up to and including full repeal, goes any further than the doors of the Senate.
When Barack Obama illegally delayed Big Business requirements under Obamacare for a year by fiat — contravening the very legislation he rammed through Congress — the House passed the measure. The President then vowed to veto the constitutionally correct approach to such a change in standing legislation but he needn’t have bothered — Harry Reid buried the bill.
Now, House and Senate figures as well as many conservative organizations — including mine — are asking John Boehner to defund Obamacare in a “must pass” bill like a continuing resolution or debt ceiling extension. These cannot be ignored by Harry Reid or Barack Obama and are a direct consequence of the Senate ignoring widespread public concerns as well as House legislation.
John Boehner and the House leadership will be vilified by some groups if they refuse this demand but they may be blamed by the general public if such an impasse with the White House and Senate leads to a shutdown of the government. It seems to be a no-win political moment, approaching the desk of Speaker Boehner.
And yet many serious problems with the design and implementation of Obamacare have become even more obvious in recent months but have gone largely unreported by the mainstream media. As the public comes to understand just how deeply flawed is this legislation and how profoundly it may affect their own lives, defunding could begin to look like a very responsible action by the House.
Take, for example, recent warnings by a former Social Security Commissioner about the startling absence of privacy protections in the portals the public will use to enroll under the new healthcare system. He warns that HHS has ignored predictions from experts that the lack of adequate privacy measures will lead to massive identity theft. Who would risk signing up if they knew it would open them to identity theft?
Shortly after the President declared the one-year delay of the Employer Mandate the Administration tried to quietly leak that the income verification that entitles citizens to hundreds of billions of dollars in premium subsidies was not ready and would be skipped for a year. It is an open invitation to massive fraud. Is this something that average people support?
Does the general public know about these troubling facts? Generally no. For whatever reasons, the consequences of these administrative actions by fiat have gone unreported although they have an immediate and important bearing on public attitudes toward this law.
More widely reported were recent remarks by labor leaders who now see that Obamacare will likely spell the end of their own union healthcare plans. Since those are one of the primary reasons that workers join unions — and after unions spent millions to elect pro-Obamacare Democrats — this has come as a rude awakening, to say the least.
They have also warned that Obamacare may spell the end of the 40-hour work week in America as employers increasingly shift to part-timers to avoid Obamacare costs and penalties. The decision by the Administration to avoid this sobering unintended consequence by delaying the employer mandate only pushes back the reality of the effects of this law on our economy.
The merits and pitfalls of pursuing a defunding strategy are now being publicly debated, today on the House floor. They see the political landscape as it exists today and argue from that perspective. A measure to eliminate the president’s signature legislative accomplishment would likely be rejected by the Senate, risking a government shutdown, the political backlash of which would likely play badly for House Republicans.
But circumstances could change quickly when those who are subject to this mandatory law begin to learn, “what’s in it,” as Nancy Pelosi infamously quipped. The measures already haphazardly enacted have been clear-cut proof that the law is destructive and charging ahead will cause serious harm. That truth may soon dawn on the general public.
Polling results now shows support for the law at an all-time low. This polling reflects largely unfocused and undefined fears about what it will do. Some specific facts are there but the GOP has yet to effectively communicate them to the public. And the truth about Obamacare — if communicated — could very well change the practicality of zeroing out funding for it.
Ken Hoagland is chairman of Restore America’s Voice which has delivered more than two million petitions to Congress asking for a new vote on the issue with debate on the honest facts of taxes, costs, coverage and implementation of Obamacare.