Running from Obamacare

by Grace-Marie Turner

Even Democrats are running from Obamacare, as President Obama acknowledged during his Friday news conference: “We’re in a political season where every candidate out there has their own district, their own makeup, their own plan, their own message.… That’s how political races work.”

The president has reneged on his promise to help Democrats who voted for the law by selling it to the American people. He gives only brief mentions to health-care reform in his own speeches, because every time he talks about it, his poll numbers fall further.

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, who actually wrote the health-care law, didn’t do much better when he tried to calm his angry constituents at a meeting in Montana by saying, “Mark my words: Several years from now, you are going to look back and say, ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad after all.’”

Democrats all over the country are running from the law, and some are airing TV ads against it — including Democratic representatives Walt Minnick of Idaho, Frank Kratovil of Maryland, and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota. They all boast of voting against the health-care law.

Even Oregon Democratic senator Ron Wyden, one of his party’s leading experts on health care and someone who voted for it, is trying to free his state from the grip of Obamacare. He wants to dump the individual mandate, the centerpiece of Obamacare, and is encouraging his state to seek a waiver to “come up with innovative solutions that the Federal government has never had the flexibility or will to implement.”

People don’t like Obamacare. Many hate it. And their minds are made up.

The August town-hall meetings were outwardly calmer this year, but reports from members of Congress say their constituents are steaming mad and can’t wait until November 2 to register their votes against the government take-over of our health sector.

The problem is that the tsunami of changes the law commands are very real. Obamacare is the law of the land: the trillions of dollars in new spending for massive entitlement programs, the freedom-robbing mandate that individuals must purchase expensive government-approved health insurance, the crippling mandates and regulatory burdens on American businesses and the medical profession, the escalating spending and higher health costs, drastic cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program, $500 billion in new taxes and fees that will suffocate innovation and force health costs to go higher . . .

Neither the president nor anyone else is talking about this. The American people need to know the impact the law will have on our health sector, the federal deficit, and the economy.

Making sure people know will be Job One for the next Congress.

Here are some key steps the next Congress could take to educate the American people and begin to undo this monstrous law even while the president readies his veto pen:

Defund it. Target the most unpopular provisions, such as hiring 16,000 more IRS agents to enforce the mandates in the new law, and just don’t fund them.

Dismantle it. Look for provisions that Democrats oppose where it could be possible to garner a veto-proof majority of support. The 1099 filing requirement and the long-term-care CLASS Act come to mind; dozens of Democrats are on record as opposing them.

Delay it. Postponing cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program and putting off $500 billion in new taxes would be a good place to start until the whole law can be repealed.

Disapprove regulations. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress leverage to review the avalanche of new regulations to implement Obamacare and to shine a light on the most egregious ones.

Direct oversight and investigation. Former CBO director Doug Holtz-Eakin estimates subsidies for health insurance could cost as much as $1.4 trillion, not $450 billion as promised. Congress has a responsibility to protect taxpayers from the flood of new red ink.

Delegate to the states. States have new incentives to implement their own programs, possibly using the models of the Healthy Indiana Plan or the Utah Health Exchange. If states have a good idea, Congress should free them from the shackles of Obamacare so they can implement it.

The real problem that the White House has is this: Passing this law was a huge mistake, and the news is only going to get worse. The more people learn about the law, the more they will support repeal.