A fake standoff in Washington D.C. is coming soon. No, not the Guardians of Liberty assembling on January 21, 2011. I’m talking about the much ballyhooed Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare. Who are they trying to fool? Oh, it’s us. Sorry.
The Republicans have no hope of repealing Obamacare in this session of Congress. I know that the Republicans are following through on their promise to take up the repeal of Obamacare, but the announcement of a vote on January 12, 2011 is nothing more than showmanship without substance.
First, in the House of Representatives the Republicans would have to get a majority in favor of repeal. The Republicans may now have a majority in the house, but that majority is laden with a number of “squishies” and RINO’s. I actually think that Boehner is likely to get a majority vote in the House.
Second, a repeal bill would have to pass in the Senate. Not likely. Republicans would have to be able to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, requiring 60 votes to be lined up. Harry Reid might let that happen without 60 votes lined up, just to be able to claim that he acted fairly. And why not? Republicans likely do not have the 51 votes to get a repeal bill passed. Dingy Harry will use every bribe and threat he has to keep his Democrats in line, and might even be able to lure a couple of squishies his way, like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Maybe Dingy Harry will channel the purgatory-bound spirit of Ted Kennedy to possess Scott Brown. Whatever. Republicans do not have the number in the Senate.
Third, does anyone believe that Obama would sign the repeal of his signature accomplishment? Or that Republicans, even if they were able to pass a repeal of Obamacare, could do so with veto-proof majorities? Again, not likely and not likely.
Anyone who believes Republicans will accomplish a repeal of Obamacare in this session of Congress are drinking the Republican kool-aid and are falling again for the false left-right paradigm that keeps the two parties in power. They will want us to believe that they tried and failed, but went down swinging. If we keep voting for them in the future they will have a better chance at keeping their promises. Yeah, right.
A practical answer to Obamacare, that is well-known to Republicans, can be found in the former Hyde Amendment. Henry Hyde, for those who don’t know, was a Republican Congressman from Illinois who is probably most famous for adding an amendment to spending bills that prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions. That type of amendment to spending bills has the power to cripple an agency or program where repeal or elimination would be impossible. Since all funding bills must originate in the House of Representatives, the Republicans have control of funding for Obamacare and can force the Senate and Obama to accept particular funding provisions or have no funding at all.
How can this be accomplished with Obamacare? Target its provisions for a lack of funding. Specifically.
A few examples:
The Internal Revenue Service has been charged with compliance on purchase of health insurance. The House of Representatives can refuse to fund the IRS compliance efforts or can specify that the IRS is prohibited from using any of its funding for compliance. Further, the House funding bill can specify that if the provision is violated, the IRS would lose all funding.
The IRS is also charged with enforcing the odious “1099 provision” that would require filing 1099 miscellaneous income forms for all transactions over $600.00. This provision is bad news for small businesses and is another example of unneeded and unwanted government intrusion. The House could specify in its funding for the IRS that the 1099 requirement cannot be enforced using government funds, just like the health insurance provision.
There are many other provisions of Obamacare that are to be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. The House should take aim at each specific provision and either defund or enact a prohibition on use of funds for those provisions, with the threat of a total loss of funding should the agency use funds for prohibited activities.
Death of Obamacare by a thousand spending cuts and prohibitions is possible where repeal is not. It might also be wildly popular with the voters if the Republicans make a point of targeting the most odious parts. If the Republicans were to turn the chipping away at Obamacare into a populist cause, Obama and the Democrats might just have to accept each cut to keep the government running and to maintain some electibility going into 2012.
Let’s see if any of the Republican leadership is interested in picking up this idea. After all, it is nothing new, just larger in scale than previous efforts such as the Hyde Amendment.
We will soon get to see whether the effort to repeal Obamacare is a one-act play or the opening salvo in a war against the ever-increasing encroachment of an extraconstitutional government. I’m betting on a one-act play, but I am a pessimist by nature.
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