Sept. 18--HUNTSVILLE -- Texas lawmakers are leaders in the attack on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is the lead Republican campaigning to not reform, but completely defund the program.
"We're in the most important domestic fight in years -- and that is to defund Obamacare," Cruz said in an interview on Fox News. "There are a lot of Republicans that are advocating that we give up before we lose...but you lose 100 percent of the battles where you surrender at the outset. If we stand together...if the American people stand together, we can defund Obamacare."
He introduced SB 1292, the Defund Obamacare Act of 2013, with a legion of 31 conservative sponsors on July 11. That bill has since left committee, but has not seen a floor vote. Its sister bill in the House, HB 2682, hasn't yet left committee.
Although he is an outspoken enemy of Obamacare, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) who represents Walker County is not a sponsor of the bill even with 147 other Republicans who have signed on. That doesn't leave him as a friend of the policy.
He co-sponsored HB 2775, the No Subsides Without Verification Act, that passed the House on Sept. 12.
"The No Subsidies without Verification Act insists that the administration has a program in place to stop taxpayer subsidies from going out the door to those who aren't eligible," Brady said. "Not paying those who aren't eligible may be radical in Washington, but that's exactly what we must do."
The bill's goal is to stop what Brady's campaign calls fraud and abuse in Obamacare by requiring the IRS to have a system in place to "verif[y]...the household income and coverage requirements of the individuals applying...prior to making benefits available." A law attacking the honor system that officials said would be used under Obamacare.
"If a bank won't approve a loan without income verification, why should Obamacare subsidies be on the 'honor system'?" Brady said. "Just because the White House has botched this terrible law's implementation doesn't not mean that risks should be taken with our hard-earned tax dollars. President Obama has admitted his not-so-Affordable Care Act is not ready for businesses. The White House now says 'trust us,' but we will follow former President (Ronald) Reagan's advice and verify first."
Brady and other Republicans are trying to prevent fraud before it happens, they say.
"You can't go into a store, restaurant or gasoline station and pay on the honor system," Brady said. "Taxpayer dollars will go out the door as individuals pinky-swear their income is accurate."
Democrats say that the bills are merely political moves.
"These things are nothing, they're not going to the Senate, they're not being signed, they're absolutely symbolic and a waste of time," Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) said. "This is nothing going nowhere."
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) agreed with Polis, saying that the bill doesn't accomplish its primary goal.
"Your bill will do nothing but prevent millions of hard-working American families from gaining affordable health care coverage," he said.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) co-sponsored HB 1315, the Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act of 2013, that would prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from enforcing Obamacare. It has since passed the committee stage.
The bill cites the May 10 admission that certain IRS employees targeted religious groups based on ideology and calls into question the ability of the agency to properly implement the policy.
"As we have seen with delay after delay, the president has acknowledged that a significant portion of his health care law is broken," he said. "It's critical that we prevent this broken law from harming Americans. The president has already delayed a costly Obamacare mandate for employers. Now it's time to provide that same protection for Texans and the rest of America. Rather than a delay for some, we need a permanent delay for all Americans."
Cornyn and Cruz's bill have passed the preliminary stages and are now awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. It's unlikely that either the Senators' or Brady's bills will be enacted as the Democrats control a majority in the Senate and show no sign of breaking rank in the numbers Republicans would need.
(c)2013 The Huntsville Item (Huntsville, Texas)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: Texas republicans lead the fight against Obamacare
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