With summer fading and fall healthcare reform deadlines approaching, politicians
are getting nervous -- Democrats fearing President Obama's signature domestic
accomplishment won't work and Republicans fearing it will.
The House GOP has voted more than three dozen times to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- derisively known as Obamacare -- knowing the effort would go nowhere, and the administration has been tweaking the law, postponing some provisions and jettisoning others.
In their latest ploy, far-right House and Senate Republicans are threatening a government shutdown to stop automatic funding of the law, something 2012 GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney last week called a bad idea.
"I think there are better ways to remove Obamacare. And we should work to replace it with healthcare reforms that actually lower costs and give patients -- not government -- control over their own healthcare," said Romney, who championed a law in Massachusetts while he was governor on which the ACA is based.
Romney made his remarks at a New Hampshire GOP fundraiser, The Hill reported.
Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who has been mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, have been in the forefront of the defunding push, attaching the Defund Obamacare Act to a continuing resolution that must be approved before Oct. 1, absent a 2014 fiscal year budget, or the government will run out of money. The measure effectively would shut down the ACA although it would remain on the books and, the conservative Heritage Foundation says would be legal given the Antideficiency Act, which makes it illegal to spend money exceeding appropriations.
"The smartest thing the House of Representatives could do is pass a CR as soon as possible that funds the government with the exception of Obamacare," Hans A. von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, said in a news release.
"That would force the president and his supporters to explain why they would shut down the government to fund an unfair, unaffordable, and highly unpopular law that is so unworkable that the administration has itself admitted it cannot manage to implement major portions on time such as the employer mandate to provide insurance."
Obama told a news conference Friday, however, Americans "would have difficulty understanding why we would weaken our economy, shut down our government, shut down vital services, have people who are not getting paid who then can't go to restaurants or shop for clothes, or all the other things that we're doing here because Republicans have determined that they don't want to see these folks get health care."
Obama said he doesn't understand why Republicans have made repealing the ACA their "holy grail."
"The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don't have healthcare and, presumably, repealing all those benefits I just mentioned -- kids staying on their parents' plan, seniors getting discounts on their prescription drugs, I guess a return to lifetime limits on insurance, people with preexisting conditions continuing to be blocked from being able to get health insurance," Obama said.
"That's hard to understand as an agenda that is going to strengthen our middle
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