WASHINGTON – In a major surprise move, the usually cautious GOP House leadership will adopt a politically risky strategy to try to stop Obamacare, with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio declaring, “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to repeal the president’s failed Obamacare.”
The GOP will follow the same strategy conservative lawmakers have outlined to WND in great detail over the last few weeks.
That strategy is to force Democrats to take responsibility for any government shutdown, by passing a bill funding every government function except Obamcare.
‘Take it or leave it’
The idea is, that will put the burden on the Democrats to keep the government running and force a showdown in which GOP lawmakers could essentially tell them, “Take it or leave it.”
However, conservatives admit, the risk is Democrats would almost certainly rather block the bill and see the government shut down than approve spending proposals that don’t include funding for Obamacare.
Democrats calculate the GOP would get the blame for a government shutdown, as happened during the Clinton administration, even though it was the president who refused to sign the spending bill approved by Congress.
Boehner is trying to avoid that trap.
“There should be no conversation on shutting government down,” Boehner said Wednesday.
“That’s not the goal,” he insisted. “There’s no interest on our part on shutting the government down.”
Emerging from a closed-door meeting with GOP House members Wednesday, Boehner announced they will vote Friday on a bill by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., to defund and delay the implementation of Obamacare until 2015, while funding the government for another year.
Graves’ measure would increase defense spending above levels mandated by the sequestration budget cuts, while decreasing domestic spending.
Congress must pass a funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, by Sept. 30 to keep the government funded.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., appeared cautiously optimistic about the GOP leadership’s sudden change in direction.
On Wednesday, she told WND, “I am encouraged by today’s announcement that the House will listen to the will of the American people and move forward with a plan to defund Obamacare.”
But, while calling this “an important victory” she warned colleagues against resting on their laurels.
“Obamacare is completely unworkable and deeply unpopular, and I will continue fighting until this train wreck is defunded once and for all,” she promised.
Repeal and replace
Also Wednesday, Republicans in the House unveiled legislation they plan to push to replace Obamacare and provide real health care affordability and access to the American people.
The plan is titled “The American Health Care Reform Act,” and is the work of the Republican Study Committee, or RSC, the 188-member coalition of House conservatives.
“The big problems before Obamacare were that is cost too much and access was limited. Yet, since Obamacare, those problems are even worse. Costs are much higher and access is even more limited,” RSC Chairman Steve Scalise of Louisiana told WND’s Greg Corombos in a radio interview Wednesday.
The full interview with Scalise can be heard below:
He said the additional problems created by Obamacare, including doctors leaving the profession and Americans losing health plans they like, make it impossible to fix President Obama's signature legislation.
"We actually begin by repealing Obamacare because we do think you need a clean slate if we're actually going to go and fix problems and then we work on things that get a competitive marketplace, which doesn't exist today," he said.
The RSC reform plan starts with removing the barriers to purchasing health insurance across state lines. It also allows for association health plans, so small businesses can pool together to receive better rates often reserved for larger firms. Individuals could also band together to find better rates.
Tax reform is also a major aspect of the bill, providing assistance for individuals to shop broadly for coverage. Scalise said that option could save a lot of people a lot of money.
"One of the problems right now with buying your own health care, if you find a health plan that's better than your employer's care, your employer is able to deduct the cost of health care. But you as an individual can't deduct that same plan if you buy it on your own. It makes health care much more expensive if you go outside your traditional employer model," Scalise explained. "So by equalizing that and allowing individuals to have the same ability to deduct health care that companies enjoy, you actually lower costs and can give families more options than they have today."
Other features include medical malpractice reform, expansion of health savings accounts, provisions to help patients with pre-existing conditions and an end to taxpayer dollars being used to pay for abortions.
So why are House conservatives bringing forth this plan now as opposed to championing it during the original debate or more than three months before most of Obamacare kicks in?
Scalise said many of these ideas were promoted during the debate in 2009-2010, but Democrats had the numbers to pass their version. Since then, he said Republicans have focused on repeal of Obamacare as well as individual parts of the plan. By the time 2012 came around, the party essentially waited to see if Mitt Romney would defeat President Obama and take the lead on changing Obamacare.
As for Boehner's decision to allow a House vote on the continuing resolution to fund the government past the end of the month at existing rates while completely defunding Obamacare, Scalise welcomed the news enthusiastically.
"I'm glad that the speaker is bringing a bill that a lot of us in RSC pushed for, that we wanted to tie defund and delay of Obamacare to the CR. This is something we've been asking for for weeks. Our leadership listened and has responded to the members in the House. Let's send something over to the Senate," he said.
"It shows that we want to fund government. We want to fund the essential running of government, but we also believe that the president's health care law would be bad for our country."
Last chance to derail Obamacare
Many Republicans believe the last chance to derail the program is before health-care exchanges go online Oct. 30.
Those lawmakers believe their last hope is put Democrats on the defensive and make them rescue the increasingly unpopular and imploding law.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told WND in July, "We need to do a good enough job communicating so people understand the House has done it’s work providing a funding bill to keep the government going for everything but the disastrous and doomed Affordable Care Act. And if the president says, ‘I’m not going to sign a bill like that,’ then it’s his decision to shut the government down, not ours.”
The man leading the anti-funding effort in the House, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., also told WND in July, “The will of the majority of the American people is with us in wanting to move money we would have to spend on Obamacare to other critical areas that have seen substantial cutbacks.”
After the vote Friday, the fight will go to the Senate, where Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has been leading the effort to defund Obamacare, along with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
Hoping just this moment would arrive, Lee outlined his strategy to WND in July.
The bill "would come over to the Senate, and once it became apparent that was the way to keep the government funded, (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid would have to make a difficult decision. I think it would be hard for him to explain to the American people why he would be willing to shut down the government simply to defend, doggedly, this very unpopular and unfair law that’s going to make health care more expensive in America,” Lee explained.
Lee has endorsed Graves' bill, and Wednesday he released a statement, along with Sens. Cruz and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., praising the annoucnement by Boehner and calling it a" victory for the American people.”
Cruz said, “Just a few weeks ago, this was deemed impossible."
"Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so. At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people," he implored.