Showdown at the OK (ObamaKare) Corral
On March 23, 2010, Barack Obama signed into law his signature legislative achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Car Act, dubbed by friend and foe alike as “ObamaCare”. In doing so, Obama accomplished what socialist liberals before him, from Hillary Clinton to the Communist Party of America, had been unable to do…enact government-controlled, nationalized health care. It was a glorious moment for the government-is-god crowd, as they had finally attained the means to show the rest of us ignorant hoi polloi just how wonderful health care would be when run by a small, elite group of enlightened bureaucrats and bean-counters.
After waging a fierce battle in the courts, the Supreme Court eventually upheld the law, and specifically the legality of the “individual mandate” (which the Obama administration had alternately argued was a tax, and NOT a tax), with Chief Justice John Roberts discovering his inner emanations and penumbras in deciding that the individual mandate was indeed a tax, and therefore justified under Congress’s Article I taxing power.
Liberal Democrats had their victory, and ObamaCare would go forward as planned, and despite the fact that the law had never enjoyed majority approval by the American people, and despite the fact that it was passed without a single Republican vote (the only major legislation ever to be enacted without bipartisan support), Democrats would now be able to show the American people just how wonderful socialist, nationalized health care could be.
Except something unexpected (for them) and unfortunate (for us all) happened on the way to the victory parade…
Despite numerous instances of accounting sleight-of-hand, including stripping more than $700 billion from the Medicare program, double counting expected revenues, collecting revenues from day one while delaying costly benefits for four years, and a government takeover of the student loan industry (with proceeds used to pay down the Obamacare costs), the Congressional Budget Office cost projections for Obamacare doubled in just three years. Then the other wheels started to fall off as one by one, Obama’s promises were exposed as wishful thinking or outright lies.
Obama told us repeatedly that “if you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance”. Yet with each passing week, that is exposed for the gargantuan lie that it is. This week, Home Depot announced it is ending health care coverage for 20,000 part time employees and sending them to the ObamaCare exchanges. In doing so, Home Depot joined a long and growing list of companies that are cutting health care benefits and/or dumping employees on the exchanges, including Walgreens (160,000 workers dumped), UPS (15,000 employees’ spouses dumped), Universal Orlando (500 employees), Trader Joes (all part time employees), Delta Airlines (which is taking a $100 million hit in a single year due to ObamaCare), and the Kroger grocery store chain (11,000 cut from insurance in Indiana alone, with more to come?).
Businesses, in an effort to stay profitable in a daunting economic environment, are finding ways to get around the punishing requirements of the Obamacare law. Many are cutting hours to 29 hours per week or less for most employees in order to stay under the penalty threshold which kicks in for uncovered full-time workers. Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster, dropped coverage and cut hours to 28 or less per week for many employees in order to stay under the required coverage threshold; 150,000 or Darden’s 200,000 employees are now part-time. Darden is joined in this move by other well-known companies, such as apparel maker Land’s End, movie theater operator Regal Entertainment (which operates more than 500 theaters nationwide), and a host of companies in the hospitality, retail, and food service industries.
Even former allies in the drive to pass ObamaCare have now turned against Obama and the Democrats. Labor unions, which contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to Obama and the Democrats, provide an army of campaign workers, and who were instrumental in shoving through the ObamaCare law, now are calling for major changes (special subsidies or exemptions for union health plans) or outright repeal. Unions who are now criticizing the law include the AFL-CIO, which calls the law “highly disruptive”, as well as Laborers International Union of North America, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and Unite Here, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, and the Operating Engineers Union. Even the union representing Treasury Department workers (including the IRS employees who are charged with enforcing compliance with the law) does not want to be forced into using Obamacare for their coverage.
In fact, the only people that seem to be happy with ObamaCare are members of Congress and their staff, who exempted themselves from the burdensome provisions of the law, even as they force the rest of us to suffer under it.
This week, House Republicans defied Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who had previously attempted to use arcane rules and a little trickery to pass a bill that would on the surface appear to defund ObamaCare, but which would still allow the Senate to strip out that provision and fund it in a compromise bill. After the backlash from his own caucus, led by Georgia’s Representative Tom Graves, Boehner was forced to wipe away his tears, put on his big boy underwear, and accept a spine transplant, and finally give into conservatives who demanded a bill be passed that will truly defund Obamacare, so long as the Republicans will stand strong and do not break ranks.
So now the stage is set for a showdown. Though Republicans only control one half of one branch of government, they control the one half of one branch that controls spending by government. Under the Constitution, all tax bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that not a single dime can be spent without the approval of the House. The bill passed by the House Republicans will surely be shot down in the Senate, and even if it passed the Senate, it would be vetoed by Obama. So where does that leave us?
If Republicans refuse to budge, and Democrats refuse to budge, then government shuts down. Then it becomes a game of chicken to see who will blink first and acquiesce to the demands of the other. The House bill funds every operation of government except ObamaCare, but the Democrats and the media will paint it as the fault of the GOP if there is a government shutdown; but the GOP must make this stand in order to save us from disaster.
The law is extremely unpopular, it has become enormously expensive, it is leading to higher unemployment, lower wages and benefits, and reduced GDP and job growth. Obama himself has unilaterally delayed or changed parts of the law, which he is not authorized to do under the Constitution. If the Republicans like Graves will continue to make the case to the American people, deflecting and countering the inevitable lies and vitriol poured upon them by Obama, the Democrats, and their media sycophants, this is a fight they can win, and winning this fight means that all Americans win.