Republicans are taking their dislike of President Barack Obama's health care reform to great lengths, possibly forcing a government shutdown in coming months.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said about 14 of his colleagues are ready to support not passing a continuing resolution to fund the government next fiscal year if the measure includes appropriating money to further implement the new health care law.
Republicans have tried as many as 36 times to repeal Obamacare. For them, refusing to fund the law and the threat of government shutdown is the final play before the law takes full effect next year.
“Congress of course has to pass a law to continue to fund the government,” Lee said on “Fox and Friends.” “If Republicans in both houses simply refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that contains further funding for further enforcement of Obamacare, we can stop it. We can stop the individual mandate from going into effect.”
The new healthcare law, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, requires that every American have health insurance. Enrollment for families begins in October, but the administration has chosen to delay the employer mandate for a year, to accommodate businesses.
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Republicans believe families should get the same relief as companies.
“We already knew that Obamacare was going to be unaffordable,” Lee said. “Now we know that it’s going to be unfair as well because the President is rewriting it, not just once but twice, by telling us that he is not going to enforce the employer mandate but he’s going to leave individuals on the hook, hardworking Americans who can’t afford lobbyists to get to him at the White House.”
Lee said the number of lawmakers supporting him is set to grow; however, some healthcare experts believe such a move isn’t politically sensible.
“I personally don’t think so but it seems to me anybody is within his or her rights to try and pursue repeal of a law they regard as baneful or harmful to the public wellbeing,” said Henry J. Aaron, of the Brookings Institution, who specializes in the reform of healthcare financing and budget policy. “When there is a law that remains on the books it’s the responsibility of government to enforce it, and efforts to sabotage such enforcement seems to me (are) antithetical to the standards and canons of good government or even politics in a democracy.”
But Aarons think Lee's tactic wouldn't work, anyway.
“I think that cooler heads will unquestionably prevail,” he said. “I find it hard to believe that a majority in either house would end up embracing such a position. The political ramifications of that sort of behavior would be catastrophic for those who voted for it.”
Those ramifications, Aaron said, would hurt the party’s prospects in 2014 and Republican leadership won’t allow such a threat to follow through.
“I hope that’s the case,” he said. “In any event it seems to me to be a disastrously misguided approach to pursuing one's opposition to the Affordable Care Act.”
Earlier this year, each chamber of Congress passed budgets that have no chance of approval in the other. The prospects for a grand fiscal bargain have long waned, meaning the country's finances will continue to be governed by crisis until a solution is found.