WASHINGTON — It’s not all about Obama, after all.
Speaking at a Ford plant near Kansas City, Mo., the president accused conservative Republicans of holding the nation hostage by voting to defund Obamacare.
He claimed the far-right is “trying to mess with me.”
However, it wasn’t just conservative Republicans who voted to defund the law.
‘Enough is enough’
An overwhelming 227 House Republicans voted for defunding while just one voted against it.
And, it’s not just conservatives blasting Obamacare anymore, although they appear fully revitalized by Friday’s House vote removing funding from the health-care law.
“This is hurting real people right here,” declared Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa. “Enough is enough.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer described Fitzpatrick as a moderate “who has to hew to the center to survive.”
Fitzpatrick didn’t just join colleagues Friday in voting 230 to 189 to fund the entire government except Obamacare. He blasted the health-care law, saying, “[I]t must be repealed and it must be replaced,” because “everything we were told by the president has proven to be wrong.”
Fitzpatrick noted Americans were told they could keep their health insurance, premiums would not rise and there would be no new taxes, but none of that turned out to be true.
Rank-and-file Republicans in the House, such as Fitzpatrick, overwhelmingly embraced the strategy of funding every government function except Obamacare.
The bill they passed Friday would keep funding at current levels through Dec. 15 for every government function except the Affordable Care Act.
After finally convincing their own leadership to adopt the defunding strategy, House conservatives appeared exuberant about the chance to take the fight against Obamacare to Democrats in the Senate.
That strategy aims to force Democrats to be the ones to shut down the government, if they refuse to keep it running just to save Obamacare.
Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., emphasized it is not Republicans calling for a government shutdown. He said that would be the Democrats’ decision.
“We must ensure our soldiers get paid and that permits and loans crucial to our industries are not delayed,” he said. “But as we hear about more businesses cutting back hours and health-care coverage as they anticipate higher costs under Obamacare, it’s clear this law is doing more harm than good.”
“The people claiming a shutdown will hurt Republicans are the same ones who said Obamacare would be so popular Republicans would never take back the House. Republicans need to pull their heads out of the D.C. bubble,” said Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas.
“Obama can’t wait to shut down the government to save Obamacare, because the law intentionally pumps hundreds of millions into the bank accounts of the SEIU who will spend that cash electing more Democrats,” the congressman added.
Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz, used an example from social media to make the point Congress is listening to the will of the people:
“Last night on Twitter, #DefundObamacareBecause was trending at number one. It is easy to understand why. While there were hundreds of creative offerings, they all pointed to one conclusion: Obamacare is not ready for prime time.”
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., one of the original leaders of the drive to defund Obamacare in the House, called it “the continuing resolution that the American people have been asking for.”
“My constituents have told me how Obamacare is already hurting them and their families,” Meadows said. “Many have lost the health-care coverage they were promised they could keep, suffered rising premiums, and found their hours at work reduced.”
Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., declared, “Obamacare is completely unworkable and deeply unpopular, and I will continue fighting until this train wreck is defunded once and for all so we can start over with free market, patient-centered health care reforms.”
The next battle in the war against Obamacare will be in the Senate.
“It is now in the hands of Harry Reid and Senate Democrats to do what the American people are asking for – defunding Obamacare,” observed Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, while pointing out 57 percent of Americans now oppose Obamacare.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and his Lone Star colleagues are already taking the fight to the other branch of Congress.
Gohemert’s office sent WND a copy of a letter sent by the Texas Republican delegation of the House to every member of the Senate, urging them to unite with them in the effort to defund Obamacare through the continuing resolution.
It reads, in part:
“Now, it is up to the Republicans and like-minded Democrats in the Senate to continue the charge to defend the American people from this disaster to their health and finances. We urge you to use all of the legislative tools at your disposal, including the filibuster, to protect America from this train wreck.
“Now is the time for the Senate to stand up for all those constituents who spoke so passionately at our town hall meetings about the irreparable harm Obamacare is causing.”
The ball is now in the court of Republicans leading the defunding fight in the Senate.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, believes the key is getting the American people to put pressure on their senators to stop Obamacare, especially Democratic senators in red states, who may be particularly open to persuasion.
“The American people never supported Obamacare – and they still don’t. If the American people make their voices heard now and start contacting Senate Democrats, I truly believe that, along with a unified Senate Republicans Caucus, we will convince enough Democrats to finally do the right thing for the country,” Lee said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., called out by name four Senate Democrats facing re-election next year.
He challenged Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to declare how they will vote.
“It’s up to Senate Democrats to follow House Republicans and show some responsibility,” Cantor said.
Democrats want debt-ceiling hike
While House Republicans passed the continuing resolution Friday that would fund the government at current levels while completely defunding Obamacare, Democrats are demanding a “clean” resolution and a hike in the debt ceiling with no strings attached.
“From the White House perspective, they’d like as high of a funding level for government agencies as they can possibly take and they don’t want these measures to be complicated by all the things that Republicans want. You know, defunding Obamacare and tax reform and other measures like that that the White House doesn’t want to debate and doesn’t want to accept,” said Larry Haas, who served as spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration.
“So you’ve got two different perspectives here where the administration would like clean legislation and the Republicans would like very dirty legislation, dirty in the sense of having a lot of things attached to it,” he told WND.
The following is WND’s radio interview with Haas:
Haas believes it is incumbent upon Congress to pass a "clean" continuing resolution and a no-strings-attached hike in the debt ceiling weeks later.
"I always believe clean is better than dirty when it comes to the debt limit because, frankly, when it comes to debt limit legislation, we are talking about the full faith and credit of the United States. If you don't raise the debt limit on time, what it means it you're not paying the bills. You are defaulting, which is akin to a family falling into bankruptcy. We've never done that and we never should do it," said Haas, who believes there shouldn't be a debt limit in the U.S.
"We really shouldn't have a debt limit because we alone among major industrialized nations have this very arcane system in which debt rises and somehow we have a statutory limit on how much debt we can have at any one time and we have to pass laws to raise the debt limit," Haas said. "If you want less debt, the way to accomplish that to to stop cutting taxes and to stop raising spending. The debt limit is the net effect of what lawmakers have done for months or years. So I feel very strongly that we not only should have clean debt limit legislation that should pass but that in an ideal world, we wouldn't have a debt limit to begin with."
A common conservative counter to that argument is that the debt ceiling is an ideal time to demand greater fiscal discipline in an effort to slow the growth of debt and eventually reverse it. Haas said Congress and the president have that power any time they wants to exercise it.
"They have all the authority that they need. They can vote to cut spending and they can vote to raise taxes. What they really should do, probably, is a combination of those two things," Haas said. "Raise taxes on those who can afford to pay more and also take a very serious look at cutting spending in places where we see waste, where we see unnecessary spending, but not in places where we're making investments that actually will help the economy down the road like biomedical research or infrastructure and things like that."
The current operating debt of the United States is approaching $17 trillion. Many estimates add unfunded liabilities to the tune of another $90 trillion. Some estimates go even higher. So how dire is our debt?
"A lot less dire than you're making it out to be. Those are very frightening figures. The fact of the matter is what is key here is the relationship between the size and direction of the debt and the size and direction of the economy as a whole. Debt can continue to rise if the economy is growing faster than the debt is rising. And we have had numerous examples that through the course of the World War II era, where while the debt was continuing to rise, the economy was growing so much faster than the debt that debt as a percentage of the economy was shrinking. And that's what we want to see," Haas said.
Haas admits that recent years of trillion-dollar deficits increased U.S. debt at "rather frightening rates." Now, he said projected deficits of about $600 billion this year have us on a sustainable course.
"We're actually not too far from a situation in which we could stabilize the debt as a share of the economy and actually get it to start shrinking. We don't have to do that much more, probably save about a trillion over the course of the next ten years," Haas said. "I'm not saying we don't have any work to do. I'm not saying it's not a serious problem, but we're actually within striking distance of being at a place which would make our situation a hell of a lot better than it seemed to be than it seemed to be three or four years ago."