FreedomWorks hosted a group of bloggers, social media stars, activists, and other liberty-loving folks at its D.C. offices this weekend to discuss the central issue we face today: Defunding ObamaCare.
January 1, 2014 is the ObamaCare ultimatum. As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has stated: “On Jan. 1, the exchanges kick in and the subsidies kick in. Once those kick in, it’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare. The administration’s plan is very simple: Get everyone addicted to the sugar so that Obamacare remains a permanent feature of our society.”
It’s crucial to use any constitutional resources at our disposal to prevent that from occurring. Fortunately, the Constitution grants the House power over the purse. This is the moment that the 2010 and 2012 Tea Party influx in the House needs to bear fruit.
The federal government’s fiscal year ends September 30. Congress must pass (and the President must sign) a continuing resolution (CR) by that date to continue funding the federal government as of October 1. As explained by Dean Clancy, FreedomWorks Legislative Counsel and VP of Health Care Policy, the key to the defunding strategy is that the CR is a must-pass bill to avoid a temporary slowdown of non-essential government services. This is the leverage we have. We cannot waste it.
How Do We Defund?
The House can pass a CR that continues to fund the federal government into the next fiscal year beginning October 1, but with one major exception: The CR does not appropriate even a single penny for the continued funding for ObamaCare. In other words, all federal funding continues as is except for ObamaCare.
After passing in the House, it will be up to the Majority Leader Reid in the Senate to bring the CR to a vote in the Senate to continue funding the entire federal government other than ObamaCare. Again, this is a must-pass bill for the Democrats. Unlike the House’s symbolic repeals of ObamaCare in the past, a CR that defunds ObamaCare has a strong chance of actually being raised on the Senate floor.
House and Senate Letters Pledge to Defund
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) is leading the defunding efforts in the House with his letter to the House Republican leadership pleading for them to do the right thing. 80 House Republicans have signed on to the letter, which “urge[s] [Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor] to affirmatively defund the implementation and enforcement of ObamaCare in any relevant appropriations bill brought to the House floor in the 113th Congress, including any continuing appropriations bill.” FreedomWorks keeps an updated list of the Congressmen who have signed on to the letter.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are the most prominent leaders of this movement. Their passionate calls for defunding from the other chamber have forced the discussion in the House and more broadly across the country. Sen. Lee’s letter directed at Senate Majority Leader Reid is expertly crafted to ensure that all Senators signing on have made an airtight pledge not to fund ObamaCare in the CR:
“For these reasons, we will not support any continuing resolution or appropriations legislation that funds further implementation or enforcement of Obamacare.”
You can also check out the actual proposed legislative CR language for defunding ObamaCare in H.R. 2682 (Rep. Graves) and S.1292 (Sen. Cruz), both titled the “Defund Obamacare Act of 2013.”. If your Senator or Congressman tells you that they are cosponsoring a bill, be sure to tell them it’s not enough. They must sign the Meadows or Lee letter to truly commit to defunding ObamaCare by attaching their efforts to the CR – the must-pass bill.
The Facts About Defunding
Have you heard the establishment line that defunding ObamaCare won’t work because ObamaCare is “mandatory” spending? This is what’s called a cover, and a false one at that. These Republicans don’t have the courage to disrupt the status quo, nor do they have the courage to admit it.
As explained by Dean Clancy, Congress has been defunding mandatory spending programs with the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for most abortions, since 1976. The Hyde Amendment affects so-called mandatory entitlement spending programs like Medicaid, and it has been annually renewed as part of HHS appropriations bills and CRs. Furthermore, Congress regularly enacts changes in mandatory program spending (“CHiMPS”) as part of its annual appropriations process.
FreedomWorks’ Dean Clancy and Legislative Affairs Assistant Joshua Withrow have written an excellent FAQ explaining how ObamaCare can be defunded, and why we shouldn’t fear a parade of horribles if an eventual stalemate results in temporary slowdown of non-essential government services.
Stopping Speaker Boehner
According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 60% of Republicans approve of defunding ObamaCare. Speaker Boehner knows this, the House leadership knows this, and the House members know this from what they’re constantly hearing from their constituents. The rumored Boehner strategy is deviously designed to continue the House’s symbolic measures without forcing the Senate to take up a CR that defunds ObamaCare.
Here’s the basic idea: Before the House would vote on a CR that defunds ObamaCare (currently targeted for this Wednesday), it would first hold a special rule vote called deem and pass, or a self-executing rule. The rule would essentially split the CR into two bills when it reaches the Senate, one bill that defunds ObamaCare, and one that does not (often referred to as a “clean” CR).
The Boehner strategy removes all of our leverage with the CR, will allow Sen. Reid to introduce the clean CR without touching the CR to defund, and will have the end result of doing absolutely nothing to defund ObamaCare. Again, it’s a cover for the Republicans who can say they voted for defunding in main CR bill. But what matters is that they’ll have voted for the rule that split off the defunding portion of the CR from being in the must-pass bill.
It will take at least 17 Republicans in the House to defeat Speaker Boehner on the rule. The rule must be stopped to prevent this whole process from becoming a farce.
FreedomWorks Proposes Health Care Contract with America
If we are successful in defunding Obamacare, we will need to immediately turn our attention to replacing it. FreedomWorks has already prepared an outline of ten consumer-driven concepts that we should seek to promote in legislation. Each one of them will deserve serious consideration, thought, and discussion in the ensuing months and years. Conservatives and libertarians need a specific policy agenda for health care as an effective alternative to ObamaCare’s destructive government-driven model.
ObamaCare will not collapse on its own, at least not any time soon. As discussed at the FreedomWorks event, the British National Health Service (NHS) model of socialized medicine has been in continuous crisis since its inception in 1948. The program is a bottomless drain on government funds that threatens to swallow the nation’s economy whole. NHS employs 1.7 million workers. That’s enough to put the system among the top five largest employers on this planet, trailing not far behind the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
The NHS model is our future if we keep on the same track under ObamaCare, but it’s not too late to prevent it. Defund now.