While the nation (and the world) have their eyes focused on the crisis in Syria, a group of House and Senate Republicans have been meeting periodically. Their purpose? To hold the United States government hostage unless they get what they want. What might that be? The defunding of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. That's right. The House has already voted to defund, eliminate, or otherwise get rid of Obamacare about 40 times. Their efforts have gone nowhere in the Senate.
Now they think they have the right weapon.
Senator Mike Lee has proposed that the House use its power of the purse to refuse to pass the continuing resolution that funds the government unless Obamacare isn't part of it. Keep in mind this is in no way the consensus of all or even most Republican members of Congress. Yet there's a second part of their plan they know would appeal to most Americans.
Early last month, the Office of Personnel Management issued a decision allowing members of Congress and their staffs to keep their current government contributions for health insurance when Congress enters the exchanges mandated by the Act. Now this is something they can hang their hats on. Both the House and Senate are ready to introduce legislation requiring everyone in Congress, right up to the president and vice president to purchase insurance from the exchanges without subsidy.
The House wants to attach this to the continuing resolution mentioned earlier. Of course, they conveniently overlook the fact that had states created their own exchanges, they might be actually lowering costs for consumers. In New York, for example, the estimate is health insurance costs could decline by as much as 50%.
No matter. These Republicans are using the tried and true tactic of throwing as much against the wall as possible, and seeing what sticks. They're calling the president's bluff on two different fronts, and they're hoping he blinks. Recent history says these GOP outliers are overplaying their hand. They want to find a way to get rid of Obamacare before several of its major components take effect October first.
Many of these same people have been predicted doom and gloom since the day President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. What they fear is this. Fully implemented, the Act will mitigate the continuing spiral of increased healthcare costs. That or (heaven forbid!) some consumers might even see costs decline. They can't afford to take that chance. Almost 40 times they've tried and failed to defund or otherwise mutilate Obamacare.
They shouldn't be allowed to succeed with these current efforts.
The RL Morning Show with Mark Riley weekdays 6 AM to 9 AM on WWRL 1600.