Sunday, August 4, 2013

'Shutting Down the Government' and/or 'Defunding Obamacare': Which To Do?

'And I Can't Go To The Port-A-
Potties on the Washington Mall!'
The most recent talk by GOP freshman US Senators Mike Lee, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz about 'shutting down the government!' as the way to 'stop funding Obamacare!' reminds us of the one riveting memory we have of the last time the government was shut down in 1995 and 1996 when Newt Gingrich was playing chicken with President Clinton.

We were working on some legislative issues in Congress when we heard what sounded like a herd of elephants storming the legislative buildings on both sides of Capitol Hill. The noise was deafening in the almost perfect echo chambers of Capitol Hill hallways, people running and screaming and cussing all which way.

'What are they so mad about?' we had to ask.

'The Clinton Administration just shut down the port-a-potties at the Washington Monument. These people who drove in for a vacation with their kids from Iowa went to the Washington Mall and all the museums and bathrooms were closed due to the government shutdown.'

'Oh' was about all you could hear yourself say. 3 days later, the shutdown was lifted. For obvious reasons.

These Senators might stop the funding of Obamacare.  But they will also close the monuments and the bathrooms and all those other things constituents like to get from their federal government nowadays. You don't get a line-item veto as a US Senator or Congressman, or President for that matter.

There are other ways to defund Obamacare, both of which are constitutional in process, nature and by rights as an American citizen.

John Jay wrote to George Washington a pretty succinct outline of what the new government should look like when Mr. Jay urged His Excellency, General Washington to attend the Philadelphia Convention in 1787:

'Let Congress legislate. Let others execute. Let others judge.' 

Precisely! It sounds so simple now. Would that it be so simple in actual practice!

Obamacare was a cornerstone of President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. He helped sweep in overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate in the process. In March of 2010, Obamacare was 'legislated' and passed by Congress. President Obama signed it into law and is now 'executing' the wishes of Congress by writing 20,000+ pages of rules and regulations to implement it by this October. The Supreme Court has 'judged' it to be constitutional with their monumental decision in May of 2012.

That is about as constitutional as it gets in America, doesn't it?

Proponents of Obamacare get mad at the Republicans in Congress for trying to block the implementation of Obamacare. They say things such as Alison Grimes said about Senator Mitch McConnell at Fancy Farm (pretty funny actually): 

“If a doctor told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he’d refuse to pass it,”

They say: 'Republicans are not interested in compromise! They are not playing fair!'

However, they have forgotten one thing: The Republicans took back the House in 2010, mainly on the back of a tsumani wave of anti-Obamacare sentiment in the mid-term elections.

Does each successive Congress have to abide by the wishes and dreams of any previous Congress? No, of course not. If that were the case, we would still have slavery in the South. That is one of the beauties of the American democratic republican system: It changes with the times and with each election.

What about the responsibility of President Obama to 'faithfully execute the laws' of this nation? Doesn't that mean compromising with Republicans at any juncture on the implementation of Obamacare?

He has already 'compromised' with himself, that is, by unilaterally delaying the employer mandate to after the 2014 elections in a blatant political attempt to help Democrats next year by not having them run on one of the most controversial parts of Obamacare.

Can a President 'just do that' unilaterally? Shouldn't Congress have been asked to concur with that decision instead of announcing it on the day after July 4 on a blog written by a junior deputy undersecretary somewhere in DC?

Why doesn't President Obama delay the individual mandate as well? Are companies and corporations more important to him than the millions of individuals who are going to be socked with a tax penalty this year if they don't have insurance?

One constitutional way to 'de-fund' Obamacare would be this: The Republicans will just have to win 60 seats in the Senate and 280 seats in the House in 2014, pass bills to de-fund or eliminate Obamacare and override President Obama's expected veto.

That is 'the name of the game' and 'the rules of the road' when it comes to constitutional government, you know. If they articulate their positions and plans in a clear enough way, and convince enough people in the nation as to the dangers inherent in Obamacare, they can do so and be successful.

There is another, pretty uniquely 'American' way to 'de-fund Obamacare'. It is as old as the Republic itself, older, in fact, since it started in 1773 when a bunch of patriots dressed as Mohawk Indians tossed all that tea into Boston Harbor.

(You do realize that had they not done so 250 years ago, Starbucks would be known for its tea today in America, not its coffee)

'Civil disobedience'. The Boston Tea Party was a case of 'civil disobedience' as in: 'We are not going to pay this tax no matter what the King tells us to do!'

Martin Luther King preached 'peaceful civil disobedience' as he led the civil rights movement for millions of African-Americans close to 100 years after the Civil War ended.

How would 'civil disobedience' show up in the fight against Obamacare? Pretty much in the same way as the spirit of the Boston Tea Party and the civil rights movement:

'Businesses and individuals would just refuse to pay the tax on their income tax returns each year.'

Granted, that would take a certain amount of kahunas and chutzpah to do so, individually, that is. However, what is the Obama Administration and the IRS going to do if hundreds of thousands of business owners and individuals refuse to pay the Obamacare tax, throw them all in prison?

What about if it becomes millions of recalcitrant business owners and individuals marching in the streets such as Martin Luther King and his followers did in the '60s?

Politicians respond to massive displays of discontent and civil disobedience. Ever see the movie 'Gandhi' with the great Ben Kinsley as Gandhi run circles around the British Imperials merely by getting millions of Indians to stop going to work or to sit and meditate for long periods of time during the work day? 

Add in the fact that the IRS can only officially audit about 1% of all tax returns each year (although this Administration seemed to find a way to delay virtually 100% of all conservative non-profit applications starting in 2010, right?) which makes it exceedingly slim that they could actually enforce the Obamacare tax if they wanted to in the first place.

So there are two alternatives to 'shutting the government down!' this time around. We like to be able to see the endgame in anything we do in the political/governmental world and we do not see how shutting down the government in Washington can be achieved with control of only one House of Congress when it couldn't be done in 1995 and 1996 when the GOP held control of both Houses of Congress.

'Win the 2014 elections overwhelmingly!' or 'Engage in civil disobedience'.

Which characteristically American solution do you choose to do? The first requires a lot of hard work and lots and lots of money. The second requires a lot of guts.

Choose your weapon, take 10 paces, turn and fire.  It is up to you to decide what to do next.

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