As economists urge Congress to de-fund Obamacare, lameduck battle looms

Today, the group DefundIt.org is hand-delivering a letter to Capitol Hill that has been signed by 64 economists, asking members of Congress to de-fund Obamacare. The letter, whose text I have pasted below, highlights what will become the next political controversy if Republicans gain a majority in one or both houses of Congress. Will President Obama sign a bill that de-funds his own pet project? Or will we end up in a government shutdown situation?

The first big battle will come during the lameduck Congress. Republicans, who may hold as many as 43 Senate seats in the lameduck (the Illinois and West Virginia races are both special elections), will try to get a continuing resolution that keeps the government open until victorious Republicans take their seats in January. Democrats will try to rush through as many appropriations bills as they can, and they will likely try to fund Obamacare.

Next year, Republicans will need to think carefully about how they proceed with spending bills. They will try to attach “none of the funds contained in this bill” clauses related to the money Obamacare needs to establish its bureacracies, enforce its employer mandates, and levy fines against the uninsured and under-insured. But President Obama will obviously be wary of signing bills that contain such riders, as it would amount to an admission of defeat.

If Republicans want to avoid being blamed for a total government shutdown — and if it happens, this is inevitable, no matter how blameworthy Obama is himself — their best bet is probably to pass all of the spending bills separately (no omnibus), and only play chicken with Obama on the appropriations bills that affect Obamacare spending: primarily Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Even more effective, how about providing funds for the agencies within those departments that people would actually miss, but not others? House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested such an approach during a recent speech at AEI:

Let’s do away with the concept of “comprehensive” spending bills. Let’s break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier. Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit. Members shouldn’t have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. Members shouldn’t have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each Department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own.

Rule-changes to appropriations could easily facilitate such an approach in the House — the Senate is another matter, but all spending bills must originate in the House anyway. And of course, the legislative picture becomes even more complicated if Republicans take the House but not the Senate, as seems likely.

Anyway, here’s the letter:

Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,

Rising health care costs have burdened the economic prosperity of American businesses and families for far too long. The recently passed reform law fails to address this concern and is even likely to raise costs due to its imposition of burdensome regulations and over $500 billion of higher taxes.

To restore America’s prosperity, Congress should de-fund the current law until it can be repealed and replaced with proven free-market solutions that have increased access to care by decreasing costs in states around the country.

We look forward to working with you to advance America’s prosperity by making our health care system more accessible and affordable.

Sincerely,

  • William Allen, University of California Los Angeles
  • Charles W. Baird, California State University, East Bay
  • Chip Baumgardner, Pennsylvania College of Technology
  • Walter Block, Loyola University New Orleans
  • Samuel Bostaph, University of Dallas
  • Scott Bradford, Brigham Young University
  • William Butos, Trinity College
  • Phil Bryson, Brigham Young University
  • Bryan Caplan, George Mason University
  • Richard Cebulla, Armstrong Atlantic State University
  • Lloyd Cohen, George Mason University
  • Lee Coppock, University of Virginia
  • Jim Cox, George Perimeter College
  • Kirby Cundiff, Northeastern State University
  • Antony Davies, Duquesne University
  • Ronnie Davis, Printing Industries of America
  • Jeff Dorfman, University of Georgia
  • William Dougan, Clemson University
  • Floyd Duncan, Virginia Military Institute
  • Fred Esposto, Kutztown University
  • Susan Feigenbaum, University of Missouri, St. Louis
  • Charles Geiss, University of Missouri – Columbia
  • Micha Gisser, University of New Mexico
  • Ed Graham, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Gerald Gunderson, Trinity College
  • Dennis Halcoussis, California State University, Northridge
  • Scott Harrington, University of Pennsylvania
  • Bradley Hobbs, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • John Hoehn, Michigan State University
  • Thomas Howard, University of Howard
  • Bruce Hutchinson, University of Tennessee Chattanooga
  • Brian Jacobsen, Wisconsin Lutheran College
  • Daniel Klein, George Mason University
  • Kishore Kulkarni, Metropolitan State College of Denver
  • Bart Lee, Golden Gate University
  • Donald Luskin, Trend Macrolytics
  • Yuri N. Maltsev, Carthage College
  • Lawrence McQuillan, Pacific Research Institute
  • Roger Meiners University of Texas Arlington
  • Tracy Miller, Grove City College
  • Thomas Moeller, Texas Christian University
  • John Murray, University of Toledo
  • Allen Parkman, University of New Mexico
  • Judd Patton,  Bellevue University
  • William Peirce, Case Western Reserve University
  • Joseph Pomykala, Towson University
  • Ivan Pongracic, Hillsdale College
  • David Ranson, Wainwright & Co. Economics
  • Charles Rowley, George Mason University
  • Paul Rubin, Emory University
  • John Ruggiero, University of Dayton
  • John Seater, North Carolina State University
  • John Semmens, Laissez Faire Institute
  • Alan Shapiro, University of Southern California
  • Stephen Shmanske, California State University, East Bay
  • Robert Stein, First Trust Portfolios
  • Brian Strow, Western Kentucky University
  • Jason Taylor, Central Michigan University
  • David J. Theroux, The Independent Institute
  • Alex Tokarev, The King’s College
  • Nikolai Wenzel, Hillsdale College
  • Brian Wesbury, First Trust Portfolios
  • Gary Wolfram, Hillsdale College
  • Bill Yang, Georgia Southern University

Beltway ConfidentialHHSObamacareUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read