The most effective proposal for dealing with the debt ceiling vote that has the backing of conservatives is the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan brought forth by the RSC. Accordingly, virtually every major conservative organization has coalesced around a pledge forcing all members of Congress to support the plan as a condition to raising the debt ceiling. The presidential candidates are also being recruited to sign the pledge, with Jim DeMint promising to support only those who sign to it.
Yesterday, Mitt Romney announced his support for the pledge, joining every other announced Republican candidate except Jon Huntsman and ....Michele Bachmann?
While Bachmann is a strong supporter of the RSC plan, she is still tepid about signing the pledge. CNN is reporting that Bachmann told DeMint she is still contemplating her support for the pledge because she wants it "to go a little further." Bachmann said at a town hall in South Carolina that she would like to add the defunding of Obamacare to the pledge as another precondition to raising the debt ceiling.
While it is probably a good idea for Bachmann to sign the pledge despite her reservation, she should be applauded for refocusing attention on Obamacare. We all agree that our long-term budget crisis, including reform of the existing entitlements, should be our paramount concern. However, we must not lose focus of the urgent need to defund the newest entitlement, Obamacare, precluding it from being enshrined as the entitlement to end all entitlements.
As we contemplate the best course of action to fill in the fiscal crater of 75 years' worth of entitlements, we must work quickly to prevent that crater of socialism from doubling in size as a result of Obamacare. The clock is ticking rapidly, and if we don't do something drastic within the year, this socialist behemoth will permanently destroy our economy and healthcare system. Its effects are already percolating into the healthcare system. Thousands of pages of regulations are already being drafted and insurance companies are precipitously raising their premiums in advance of the new Obamacare reality.
Look no farther than Medicare as an example of how arduous it is to slightly tweak an established entitlement, much less repeal it altogether. We need to harness the energy from the 2010 election and fully defund Obamacare while it is still grossly unpopular with the public.
So how can we void Obamacare before it is too late?
This brings us back to the budget fight and the pledge. As I noted during the fight over the 2011 continuing resolution, we cannot rely upon the 2012 elections to repeal Obamacare. Even the most auspicious outcome of the election – one in which we win the presidency and both houses of Congress – we will still lack the votes to repeal Obamacare though the conventional legislative process.
Although it is a mathematical possibility, it is a forgone conclusion that we will not win 60 seats in the Senate, the requisite number to block a Democrat filibuster against repeal. Even if we miraculously garner 60 seats, there is no guarantee that those members who are "conservatively-challenged" will support full repeal, even though they voted against the original enactment. The only recourse of action would be to pass repeal using the budget reconciliation process, or to institute undesirable limitations on the filibuster during the opening session of the 113th Senate. In other words, we have no road map to repealing Obamacare with the legislative process.
Consequently, the only way we can ensure that Obamacare doesn't take root before it become immutable, is by using the chokeholds of the budget process to defund it. And we must be willing to shut down the government to do so.
After we won control of the House in January, we began the year with three opportunities; the 2011 budget, the debt ceiling fight, and the 2012 budget. We punted on the 2011 budget and we are wisely coalescing around a balanced budget amendment as a precondition to raising the debt ceiling. However, Obamacare is still being funded and the clock continues to tick.
Michele Bachmann is perspicacious enough to realize that with control of only one branch of government, we will only have one more chance to force the defunding of Obamacare; during the September battle over the 2012 Ryan budget. The Ryan budget completely defunds Obamacare, but Republicans must have the gumption to shut down the government over it on October 1 in order to force the issue. Judging by the flaccid reaction from GOP leadership during the 2011 budget fight, we cannot confidently presume they will have the courage to force a government shutdown over anything. So what is the endgame for Obamacare?
Bachmann is laudably directing a penetrating focus on Obamacare. We can debate whether it is prudent to muddle the balanced budget pledge with another provision; however, we must remember that at some point, the GOP must be willing to go to the brink over Obamacare.
If we fail to defund it now, we will be facing the same insurmountable political reality that confronts us with reforming Medicare. On the other hand, if we force a government shutdown over Obamacare, the public will strongly support us – a vote of confidence we would not enjoy if we would go to the mat over Medicare reform. A half century of dependency will do that to most Americans. This is a lesson we should heed regarding Obamacare.
Yesterday's decision from the 6th Circuit Court upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare should serve as a reminder that we cannot rely on the courts to vitiate the monstrosity. We should be leery of pinning all of our hopes on one man; Justice Anthony Kennedy. Michele Bachmann is reminding us that we must be proactive against Obamacare.
The clock is ticking....