BY ROBERT ROMANO | SEPTEMBER 18, 2013
Postpone Obamacare compromise the only plan that might work
House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) would do well to embrace new legislation introduced by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) that funds the government, and defunds and delays implementation of Obamacare until 2015.
It is the only continuing resolution on the table at the moment that achieves the simultaneous goals of avoiding a government shutdown while giving the American people a reprieve from being funneled into government-run, taxpayer-funded health care.
In a statement Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens praised the legislation and asked for support: "We urge all members to cosponsor this legislation and stand firm behind Rep. Graves effort."
The bill as drafted defunds the discretionary aspects of the health care law pursuant to the administration of the law for one year, and puts a year delay on the execution of its mandatory aspects like the Medicaid expansion and the insurance state exchange subsidies. It would keep the total current sequestration level for discretionary spending for 2014.
For Boehner and Cantor, this is likely the only plan that will keep House Republicans together on the fight over the continuing resolution. It is an eminently tenable proposition, which is that if the White House is delaying Obamacare for big business, the unions, and special interests for a year, then the American people deserve the same treatment.
It is a good deal, and an honest and fair attempt at a compromise by Graves and his 42 original legislation cosponsors. They deserve the praise of the American people for their leadership on this issue.
For members who have taken the position that they cannot support a continuing resolution that allows Obamacare to be funded, this offers an opportunity to make their voices and that of their constituents heard. But they must be clear, postponement is not the end goal — repeal is.
Politically, the one-year delay will allow voters to render their verdict on the health care law via the 2014 midterm elections. Republicans can run on repeal, Democrats can run on keeping the law. With the employer mandate already delayed by Obama, and the state exchanges not yet ready for primetime, for all parties involved, this outcome is the best that could be hoped for considering the circumstances.
The alternative facing Boehner and Cantor is to present a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare that will tear the House Republican Conference apart, and could very well result in a government shutdown. Conservatives who have staked out a position that they cannot support a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare would be left in a tight spot.
For, if Boehner and Cantor do not embrace the plan, there will be no alternative for the pro-defund caucus. They must be prepared to escalate their efforts to defeat the continuing resolution, even if it means a government shutdown.
As for Democrats, they do not like House leadership's current proposal because it does not do away with nondefense sequestration. Boehner and Cantor may not be able to count on their support this time around to get the continuing resolution across the finish line.
To give the American people relief from Obamacare and to avert a shutdown, House Republicans will need to present a united front to the Senate and the White House. The Graves plan offers the best chance of doing that, and in the process creates the opportunity to at least slow down the implementation of Obamacare.
Overall, this will set the political stage for 2014, where members and candidates can make their case to the American people that the health care law should never be allowed to go into effect. It is worth a shot.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.