Washington was recently visited by Tea Party members rallying to urge Congress to “Defund Obamacare.” Here is the most interesting (and ironic) thing about the Defund Obamacare effort: Even if Congressional Republicans hold America’s budget hostage and shut down the government, it won’t defund Obamacare; but it would defund America by stopping the funding of critical programs.
A government shutdown will not defund or shut down Obamacare. That is what the Congressional Research Service reported when asked by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK. How is that possible? Obamacare is funded by multiyear, mandatory funding. Such funding is unaffected by the annual appropriations that the Tea Party wants House Speaker John Boehner to shut down. The state marketplaces set up by Obamacare (known more commonly as “exchanges”), the subsidies for low-income people to buy insurance, the individual mandate and all the new rules prohibiting insurance company discriminations and abuses (remember the days of pre-existing conditions?) will all go forward even if the Tea Party succeeds in disrupting this year’s federal budget.
The Tea Party’s rationale is not valid – and its goal is not possible. Nevertheless, whether or not Boehner will cave to the Tea Party’s demands remains very much in question. Boehner may indeed try to defund Obamacare and end up defunding America instead. After all, his speakership rests in part on his ability to keep the extremists in his caucus supporting him – not always easy with Eric Cantor circling overhead like a vulture.
No wonder Senator Richard Burr, R-NC, called the defund plan “the dumbest idea” he ever heard, and why Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, called it “Shenanigans.”
Okay, so shutting down Obamacare is not possible. The Tea Party is all confused (ignoramuses). They claim the reason to “exempt America” from the Affordable Care Act is that Congress is already exempted from it and because large employers are, too. Neither point is true.
First, the federal Office of Personnel Management ruled a few weeks ago that members of Congress and their staffs will, indeed, receive their insurance through the state Marketplaces. But, Tea Party leaders apparently figure people have not heard the OPM news – and they are probably correct about that. The majority of Americans do not bother to keep up with what’s going on in Washington. Among those who do, too many watch Faux News (“We Deceive. You Believe.”) Tea Party leaders feel that there is no need to tell the truth. Why let facts get in the way?
Second, 96 percent of large employers already offer health insurance because that is what the market demands. Only 4 percent of employers do not offer insurance. They did not get an “exemption” as the Tea Party contends; they simply got a temporary delay in having to provide insurance so that they have more time to get their act together. Obama decided he didn’t need to fight with a tiny handful of businesses if they honestly needed a few more months to get organized to offer insurance.
So it is a lie to say that Congress and big business is permanently “exempt” from Obamacare.
What would happen if the Tea Party “won” and shut the government down? What impact would they have? Here are some examples of who would get hurt if Republicans defund America:
- Recent veterans returning from Afghanistan, who try to file new claims with the VA. Although VA hospitals would presumably remain open in a shutdown, the staff (who normally handle new claims) would not be at their desks.
- Parents sending their kids back to school, who want to know that federal food inspectors will be on the job making sure peanut butter and hamburgers are not contaminated.
- College students who have questions about federal student loans, including vets using the GI Bill (which is often late or incorrect in its disbursement) – but who will find no staff at the Department of Education or VA desks to answer their questions.
- Grandparents who are finally old enough for Social Security and want to file a new claim will find that there is not Social Security staff around to get them started. Social Security will continue to be sent out on time – that is, unless the tea party also succeeds in convincing the GOP to push America into a default crisis at the beginning of October, when the credit card payments come due that Congress has racked up; then nobody knows what will happen.
- Americans of all ages who get hit by the flu season or an outbreak of whooping cough, because there won’t be Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staff at their desks to track and warn us about the flu or any other disease.
- Government workers will be sent home, including those who process your tax refund.
- Grandma will not be able to have her surgery because the Medicare people will not be there to process her claim.
But they cannot defund Obamacare by shutting down the government. It is impossible. It also cannot be repealed (although the House R’s have tried to do so over 40 times). It is the law of the land. It is here to stay.
One Tea Party leader recently wrote in USA Today that she is “undeterred by the consequences” of a government shutdown. Oh, really? Doesn’t she care who gets hurt? Or does she only care about making a political statement? No wonder only 7% of Americans side with the Tea Party’s idea of shutting down the government over Obamacare. The other 93% do not want to defund America.
If the Republicans go ahead with their plan to shut down the government – causing Americans to not receive their Social Security checks, Military pay, etc – it will not take long before Congress’ phones will be ringing off the hook from constituents angry that the shutdown affected them. Obama will not be blamed for this (except on Faux News), the Teapublicans in the House will be blamed (and Boehner). It will become a Republican kamikaze mission – perhaps even causing the party to lose in 2014 and then self-destruct. (Oh boy! Wouldn’t that be wonderful!)
Damn…these Teapublicans are incredibly stupid – and you cannot fix them – you truly cannot fix “stupid.” These fools are beyond repair. I think they left what little brains they had at the schoolhouse door.