Obamacare Becomes a Favor Factory for the Politically Connected
With House and Senate leaders merely disagreeing around the edges of a continuing resolution funding the government for fiscal year 2014 and increasing the $16.699 trillion debt ceiling, it appears all but certain that Obamacare will be fully funded this year, next year, and every year after that.
The principal reason for that is House Republican leadership presented a plan that would have allowed funding for Obamacare to take effect in full. No defund. No delay. Nothing.
"The only apparent remaining difference of opinion is which special interest should get an exemption from the health care law," Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens said in a statement.
On the Senate side, Republican leaders have reportedly signed off on legislation that funds the government, raises the debt ceiling, and would exempt labor unions from some of the health care law's harmful provisions.
In the House, the GOP would do the same, except instead of giving big labor a waiver, it would have offered a two-year delay on the medical device tax on behalf of General Electric and other corporate interests affected by the levy.
Special Interest Grab Bag
Whoop-tee-doo. Far from the high-minded intentions of stopping Obamacare in its tracks that was voiced a few weeks ago, the discussion in D.C. has now devolved into an all-too-familiar special interest grab bag. The latest proposal would have done nothing to defund or delay the health care law.
"This comes atop big businesses getting a one-year delay on the employer mandate, members of Congress and their staffs getting a lifetime exemption from the law from the Obama administration, and other labor unions who also got a four-year waiver from the so-called Cadillac insurance plan tax," Mehrens noted.
To its credit, the House proposal would have ended the congressional exemption, and the Senate could not even agree to that. Meaning, said Mehrens, “When both houses are through negotiating, they'll likely agree that both big labor and General Electric should be exempted,” and Congress will keep its exemption.
Disagreement Over Favors
The only silver lining may be that because House and Senate leaders cannot agree on which special interest carve out should go into effect, they may yet be unable to reach any agreement on funding the government.
That, and so bad was the latest House proposal, Republican leaders had to pull the bill because it could not find the votes.
This could give House Speaker John Boehner a reprieve to reset the House's continuing resolution strategy, Mehrens said. "Rather than playing the traditional D.C. carve out game, House Republicans need to go back to square one and demand that everyone be treated the same by defunding the entire law."
He concluded, "These carve outs for special interests once again prove why we need to get rid of health care law in full."
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.