In a vote that broke largely along party lines, the House of Representatives passed a spending bill early Sunday morning that would fund the government through Dec. 15, but attached two amendments to the bill that could bring about a government shutdown at midnight on Monday.
One of those amendments, a one-year delay in the implementation of Obamacare, is popular among conservatives and others opposed to the President Obama's signature health care legislation, but delaying it could be a huge mistake for the GOP, regardless of whether or not a shutdown of the federal government takes place.
Delaying the implementation of the health care law until 2015 would mean that the average American won't feel the full effect of what is arguably the worst piece of legislation to be passed into law since the Fugitive Slave Act until after the 2014 midterm elections. From a purely political standpoint, this gives Democrats a free pass that will allow them to avoid the likely backlash from voters they would surely face when the American people finally find out for themselves that the Affordable Healthcare Act is not at all what president Obama and the Democrats have been telling them it is.
In the Republicans' stubborn attempt to energize their base while actually accomplishing nothing, except possibly shooting themselves in the foot, the GOP seems to be missing a great opportunity here. Why let President Obama and the Democrats get away with another year of lying through their teeth about what Obamacare really means to the average American family?
A better strategy very well could be to give the Democrats what they want, the full implementation of the law on January 1, 2014, and by doing so finally allowing those Americans who still think Obamacare means lower premiums and universal healthcare for all, find out once and for all that they have been sold a bill of goods.
According to a report released last week by the Manhattan Institute, insurance premiums will skyrocket for most Americans. The report says insurance rates for younger men will increase by an average of 97 to 99 percent, and for younger women by an average of 55 to 62 percent. If you happen to live in North Carolina a mere 99 percent increase might seem like good news. The report shows residents of North Carolina will see individual-market rates triple for women, and quadruple for men.
Democrats and the Obama administration are desperately trying to prevent Americans from learning the truth about the dramatic rise in premiums that will come about as a result of the Affordable Care Act. A 15-page report from the Dept. of Health and Human Services makes it sound as if Obamacare will be nothing but lollipops and rainbows for the American people. HHS claims in the report that "premiums nationwide will be about 16 percent lower than originally expected." There's one major problem with that statement. It is deliberately misleading. Let's just call it what it truly is, an outright lie.
What HHS doesn't tell you is that those numbers are based on a melding of HHS numbers that are little more than hopeful speculation, and a Congressional Budget Office report that projects what rates might look like in 2016. An HHS press release outlining the report completely ignores the fact-based evidence that shows a major increase in premiums across the board in 2014.
While talking with Forbes, former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin said, “There are literally no comparisons to current rates. That is, HHS has chosen to dodge the question of whose rates are going up, and how much. Instead they try to distract with a comparison to a hypothetical number that has nothing to do with the actual experience of real people.”
The Forbes article looked at rates for 27, 40, and 64-year-old men and women. The HHS report offers rates for 27-year-olds; and rates for the average-aged exchange participant, a figure that varies from state to state, but balances out to the mid-thirties. As the Forbes article shows, the gap between the factual numbers and the misleading figures that have been supplied by the Obama administration and HHS is huge.
As it stands now Republicans have virtually no chance of stopping Obamacare, or even delaying it. As long as Harry Reid and the Democrats control the Senate, no House bill that delays implementation or strips funding from the ACA will ever make it to the president's desk.
"Today’s vote by House Republicans is pointless," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement early Sunday. "To be absolutely clear, the Senate will reject both the one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act and the repeal of the medical device tax."
Even if by some miracle such a bill were to clear the Senate, the president has already vowed to veto it. "Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown," said press secretary Jay Carney.
So what hope does the GOP have of ever ending Obamacare? At this point the only circumstance under which President Obama might be forced to sign a bill that would defund the ACA, or end it outright, would be if an overwhelming majority of the American people demanded it, and it threatened to cost the Democrats any chance of holding the White House in 2016.
What better way to make that happen than to allow the law to go into effect as scheduled in January, and allow the American people to finally, as Nancy Pelosi so eloquently put it, "find out what's actually in it?"
When Americans see their premiums go through the roof, and discover all of the other goodies included in this train wreck, disillusionment and rage will spread across the country like wildfire. Voters will likely demonstrate their anger by taking it out on Democrats in the voting booth next November, giving the GOP control of both the House and Senate. A bill that completely repeals Obamacare could then pass through Congress like water through a sieve.
When a bill that calls for the full repeal of Obamacare lands on the president's desk while an angry mob of peasants with pitchforks and torches forms from sea to shining sea, threatening to run every Democrat in sight out of Washington, D.C., a lame duck President Obama would almost assuredly be told by the Democrat Party in no uncertain terms that he has no choice but to sign it.
A risky strategy? Maybe, but is it any more risky than the political theater Republicans have been staging, a strategy of acting tough before once again caving to Senate Democrats and crying about how the GOP is helpless against Harry Reid and President Obama? Americans are growing weary of that script.
The old adage, "be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it," seems quite fitting for the president and his party when it comes to Obamacare. They have been so hell bent on seeing their decades-long dream of forcing universal healthcare on the nation come true that they may not have actually considered the consequences. Give it to them, and let it be their undoing. Stand back and watch as their dream becomes a nightmare from which they can't awake.