Terry Jeffrey: Don't Repeal and Replace, Repeal and Defund

January 5, 2011 - 11:44 AM

Nancy Pelosi

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Commentary) - Next Wednesday, the House of Representatives will take up legislation sponsored by new House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that is titled, "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act."

On its face, this two-page bill is very simple. It would turn back the clock on federal health care laws to the instant before President Barack Obama signed his massive health care bill last March, making it as if Obamacare "had not been enacted."

So far, so good.

But in addition to offering this bill to repeal Obamacare, the Republican leadership will also offer a resolution that will instruct "certain committees to report legislation replacing the job-killing health care law."

No doubt this resolution is intended to fulfill the provision in the "Pledge to America" that House Republican leaders released during the 2010 campaign that vowed not only to repeal Obamacare, but to "replace" it.

This is not good.

In their "Pledge," the Republican leaders said: "We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and prevent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick."

This pledge raises questions for the Republican leaders that echo questions they asked Democrats during the debate over Obamacare: Where does Congress get the authority tell a private insurance company and its private customers that in a free society they cannot freely agree to an insurance plan in which there is some cap on the amount of money the insurance company must pay to the client in any given year, let alone over the course of a lifetime?

And if a Republican-majority Congress did order insurance companies to pay limitless benefits to all of their customers, who would end up paying for those limitless benefits?

The "repeal and replace" plan suggested by the Republican House leadership is just another road to socialized medicine. Its endgame is much higher health insurance costs, followed by demands for expanded federal subsidies of health insurance, followed by future Congresses using those subsidies to justify even greater federal regulation of the insurance industry.

"Repeal and replace" would tighten the federal noose around American medicine in a different manner than Obamacare, but it would tighten the noose just the same.

There is a better way: Get government out of the way. Let people be responsible for their own destinies, including their own health care.

The road back to the land of the free starts not with replacing Obamacare, but with defunding it.

As long as Obama is president, he will veto any bill that repeals his health care plan. But Obama cannot spend money unless Congress appropriates it.

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 7 of the Constitution is unambiguous: "No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." No appropriation can become law unless the House of Representatives approves it. If the Republican-majority House refuses to appropriate money to implement Obamacare, Obama may not draw money from the Treasury to do so.

Both Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, have called for denying Obama the money to implement Obamacare.

"Zero-out the implementation of Obamacare," Bachmann told me in a recent interview, in which she also advocated zeroing out funding for Obama's unconfirmed policy "czars."

"Zero-out funding for the 16,500 IRS agents who will be the enforcers of Obamacare," Bachmann said. "All of that needs to be zeroed out. That's the beauty of conservatives winning in this election, because the House has the power of the purse and we can zero that out in our budget."

"We need to make that argument," said Bachmann, "because to go down the road of funding Obamacare will lead us to socialized medicine."

King told me that every appropriations bill the Republican-majority House passes should include language that bars funding of Obamacare.

"Each appropriations bill that comes through, we need to put language in it that prohibits any of the dollars that are appropriated in those funds -- and I would add to that any funds heretofore appropriated -- from being used to implement or enforce Obamacare," said King.

In the end, Obama must either sign these bills and defund Obamacare, or the Republican-majority House must send him bills shorn of the language defunding Obamacare.

"Somebody's going to blink," King told me. "It'll be President Obama, or it'll be House Republicans.

"If House Republicans refuse to blink, we will succeed," said King. "Obamacare will never become the effective law of the land, and we'll be able to leave a legacy of liberty for the future generations."

Hopefully, the Republican leaders will gain the courage of Bachmann and King -- and stare Obama down.