Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is putting together a coalition of Senate Republicans to take a stand against ObamaCare. Lee’s plan is to block the next funding resolution for the government unless every dollar of ObamaCare funding is cut, effectively killing the program. In other words, he’s threatening a government shutdown. He says he’s got 13 or 14 Republican senators on board, and is hopeful the House Republican caucus will stand with them.
Politico transcribes Lee’s comments from a Fox and Friends interview on Monday morning:
“Congress, of course, has to pass a law to continue funding government,” he said. “Lately, we’ve been doing that through a funding mechanism called a continuing resolution. If Republicans in both houses simply refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that contains further funding for further enforcement of Obamacare, we can stop it, we can stop the individual mandate from going into effect.”
Lee clarified that he was not talking about certain parts of the law that are already in effect, such as kids being able to stay on their parents plans until they are 26. He said they were focused on unpopular parts of the law such as the individual mandate.
“We already knew that Obamacare was going to be unaffordable,” he said. “Now we know that it’s going to be unfair as well because the president’s rewriting it, not just once, but twice, by telling us that he’s not going to enforce the employer mandate but that he’s going to leave individuals on the hook, hard working Americans who can’t afford lobbyists to get to him at the White House.”
The Hill observes that during a radio interview on Friday, Lee said he would “utilize every procedural mechanism” at his disposal to stop ObamaCare. Blocking a continuing budget resolution would be a potent example of the sort of “procedural mechanism” he described.
Conventional wisdom holds government-shutdown dramas to be losing propositions for the loyal opposition, because the White House has much greater influence over the course of the national conversation. Lacking a single leader with the media stature to challenge the President, it’s supposed to be tough for the Republicans to escape blame for being a pack of stubborn obstructionists out to hurt America by shutting the government down. It doesn’t help that the media enjoys telling that story.
But things are a bit different this time, notably because President Obama has already usurped power and re-written ObamaCare to delay the employer mandate. He’s holding a veto threat against congressional Republican efforts to delay the individual mandate as well. This contradiction is difficult to sell to the public, while Republicans can make the case that the entire Affordable Care Act is fatally flawed, making it foolish to spend more money on it. Senator Lee and his allies would be well-advised to remind the public how much tax money is getting plowed into the Democrats’ continuing effort to “sell” ObamaCare, and how an awful lot of that money is ending up in suspiciously well-connected hands. Waste and corruption are resonant topics with a public that still remembers the Democrats shrieking that Big Government can’t afford to cut a nickel of spending without firing air-traffic controllers and paramedics. But it can afford millions of dollars for ObamaCare propaganda? Deployed on behalf of a system that won’t even be able to launch on schedule?
This might also be a good time to remind the public that Congress is still scribbling “continuing resolutions” in crayon to keep the government running. If the most basic duties of fiscal maintenance are beyond Congress and the Administration, why are we talking about giving them vast new powers and responsibilities, on top of the essential duties they cannot handle? How well is this hastily cobbled-together system going to work, given the appalling record of fraud and abuse in much older, better-designed government agencies?
Putting Obama on the defensive and making him explain why we should keep pouring money into a system he’s already admitted isn’t ready for prime time is a good strategy. Make the President explain why the rest of government should be held hostage to ObamaCare. Make him explain why individuals can’t get the kind of break he just gave employers. The optics of government shutdown can be tricky to manage… but really, when is there a more logical time to discuss epic levels of waste and fraud? What’s the point of waiting a few years for the first Inspector General reports and “How ObamaCare Failed” books?