Defund Obamacare Now

by Deroy Murdock
A disenchanted public worries about the program’s economic devastation.

Congress possesses the power of the purse, but only if it wields it. And it should do so to defund Obamacare, before this medical Godzilla grows larger and more ferocious.

Republican senators Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Florida), Rand Paul (Kentucky), and Ted Cruz (Texas) are leading a valiant effort to pass a continuing resolution in September that will finance the federal government as is but zero out Obamacare. Short of repeal, which Obama surely would veto, this may be the last exit before Obamacare’s New Year’s Day implementation. Once this beast is unleashed, its fire-breathing destruction could become uncontainable.

This initiative, headquartered online at DontFundObamaCare.com, arrives just as Obamacare’s critics have reached a crescendo.

“One major problem is the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB is essentially a health-care rationing body. By setting doctor reimbursement rates for Medicare and determining which procedures and drugs will be covered and at what price, the IPAB will be able to stop certain treatments its members do not favor by simply setting rates to levels where no doctor or hospital will perform them. . . . The IPAB will cause frustration to providers and patients alike, and it will fail to control costs.”

Was that Rush Limbaugh? Glenn Beck?

Thus wrote Howard Dean, M.D., former presidential candidate and ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Dean explained in July 29’s Wall Street Journal that he likes aspects of Obamacare but considers IPAB a clinical wrecking ball.

“I think if you’re an individual who is satisfied with your health care coverage, you’re probably in a better position to stick with that coverage than go through the change of moving into a different environment and going through that process. . . . I would prefer to stay with the current policy that I’m pleased with, rather than go through a change if I don’t need to go through that change.”

Was that from the latest Ann Coulter rant?

Nope.

That was acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel telling the House Ways and Means Committee on August 1 why he, like many other employees at the tax agency, prefers to keep his generous health coverage rather than join Obamacare — which the IRS is scheduled to begin enforcing on January 1.

Obamacare “will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class. . . . We can no longer stand silent in the face of elements of the Affordable Care Act that will destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.”

Was this penned by tea-party leaders?

In fact, this is from an open letter by the chiefs of the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and UNITE-HERE. These three major labor unions represent some 2.8 million workers. They originally cheered Obamacare. But, to paraphrase former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s notorious words, once it was passed, they learned what was in it. And now, they are afraid.

As well they should be. Even as it paces its cage and aches to stomp across the U.S. economy, Obamacare already is wreaking havoc.

“One thing that we hear in the commentary that we get . . . is that some employers are hiring part-time in order to avoid the mandate” for insuring staffers who work more than 30 hours weekly, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke testified on Capitol Hill on July 17. The Chicago Fed noted that day that “several retailers reported that the Affordable Care Act would lead to more part-time and temporary versus full-time hiring.” Indeed, even after Obama delayed this law’s employer mandate by one year (autocratically and without the statutory authority to do so), among 75 manufacturers surveyed by the Philadelphia Fed, 5.6 percent plan to sack or not hire workers, to avoid Obamacare’s handcuffs. Another 8.3 percent will shift from full-time to part-time workers, and 18.1 percent will boost outsourcing. Thus, fully 32 percent of these manufacturers say they will not create jobs next year.

This worrisome trend dominated July’s employment figures. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time positions rose by 92,000, but part-time jobs increased by 174,000 — 90 percent more quickly.  June’s numbers were even more frightful, with  full-timers falling 240,000 as part-timers soared by 360,000.

Thank you, Obamacare!

The term “Affordable Care Act” has become a sick punchline.

Peach State insurance commissioner Ralph Hudgens just announced that Georgia insurers have proposed 2014 premium hikes “up to 198 percent for some individuals.” Meanwhile, seven insurers competed in Georgia’s health exchange until Wednesday, when Aetna and Coventry completely fled. And then there were five.

Maryland expects individual-market premiums to rise in 2014, up to 25 percent. Ohioans are bracing for like hikes averaging 88 percent. Forbes and National Review Online columnist Avik Roy calculates that a typical, non-smoking, 25-year-old California man will see his rates surge between 100 and 123 percent. Coverage will cost a similar 40-year-old 116 percent more next year.

Obamacare will hammer taxpayers, too. The one-year employer-mandate delay, the Congressional Budget Office projects, will cost $12 billion, and some 1 million Americans will lose their employer-based health plans. More shocking: Since Obamacare’s 2010–19 expenses were backloaded (to ease congressional passage), its initial ten-year price tag was $940 billion. Conveniently for Obama, this fell just below the potentially deal-killing $1 trillion threshold. However, CBO’s 2014–23 forecast incorporates four years of actual operations. Thus, in a Smithsonian-grade bait and switch, Obamacare’s latest ten-year estimate is $1.8 trillion — double the original sticker price.

Regarding a similar con job, my old Appalachian Trail hiking partner J. D. Tuccille writes at Reason.com that a call center in Contra Costa, Calif., has opened to answer questions and otherwise help people enroll in Obamacare. In the middle of training, about half of the 2,000 hirees were told one on one that they would not work full time, as promised, but instead would serve part time — without medical benefits. Some of them left other full-time positions only to get stuck with part-time work and without health insurance. That’s one more triumph of Obamacare.

Meanwhile, Obamacare’s popularity slip-slides away. Beneath the headline “CBS News poll finds more Americans than ever want Obamacare repealed,” the network’s Amanda Cochran observed July 24 that 54 percent of adults disapprove of Obamacare while only 36 percent embrace it. A mere 13 percent believe the program will “help me,” while 38 percent think it will “hurt me.”

Amid Obamacare’s smoldering rubble, it is irritating that GOP senators such as North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Oklahoma’s stalwart Tom Coburn spurn this defunding bid. Imagine: If Republicans organized a proper anti-Obamacare parade, a deeply disenchanted public just might march with the GOP.

So long as the employer mandate is frozen until January 1, 2015 (rather than 2014), Republicans should echo Senator Lee’s flawlessly logical argument: “If the administration will not enforce the law as written, then the American people should not be forced to fund it.”

This strategy need not trigger a messy government shutdown. Lee wants to fund the budget, absent Obamacare. The House should consider similar language and make Democrats declare whether or not they still love this monster. Senate Democrats likewise should choose sides.

If this measure reaches Obama’s desk, let him decide: “Do I keep Washington running as is, sans Obamacare money, or will my veto force Congress to keep Obamacare alive, even though everyone sees its rotting fangs and hideous, wart-encrusted hide?”

Come on, Republicans: Make Obama and the Democrats sweat!

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.