The PJ Tatler

Now is the time to defund ObamaCare the right way.

This article from The Heritage Foundry has some worthwhile thoughts on defunding ObamaCare and reports previously undiscovered advance funding for its implementation. The problem was brought to light by Michele Bachmann, as reported here. As the Heritage Foundry article notes,

While Obamacare is rightly notorious as a fiscal nightmare, less well known is just how massively it transferred power from Congress to the executive branch. In fact, the full scope of Congress’s abdication is still unknown. What is now known, however, is that deeply buried within Obamacare was a $105 billion slush fund that assures its implementation into the future, no matter what future voters think or want.

This makes then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment to the Legislative Conference for National Association of Counties about Obamacare, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” made a year ago tomorrow, ironically prescient. Just this past month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) updated an October 2010 report titled “Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).” The new report found that, unbeknownst to almost every Member of Congress, Obamacare contains $105 billion in direct implementation spending that bypasses Congress’s normal appropriations process.

A separate CRS report, titled New Entities Created Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, concludes: “The precise number of new entities that will ultimately be created pursuant to [Obamacare] is currently unknowable, for the number of entities created by some sections is contingent upon other factors, and some new entities may satisfy more than one requirement in the legislation.” These new bureaucracies would have the power to reach into your life on a daily basis, including control over who is allowed to sell you health insurance and how they may do so, as well as what procedures Medicare will or will not pay for. Once Congress allows these new bureaucracies to be created, it will be next to impossible to get your health care freedom back.

But these merging entities do have a weak spot. CRS reports: “In practical terms, many of these entities will not be able to function until their members are appointed and funds are appropriated or made available for the entities to operate.” That is where the secret $105 billion stash comes in. Instead of leaving these fledgling bureaucracies vulnerable to the budgetary decisions of future Congresses, Obamacare appropriated billions in implementation spending over a 10-year period.

The approval or rejection of executive appointees is within the power of the Senate, not the House. However, The article continues,

Conservatives can still save the nation from Obamacare’s bureaucratic kudzu, but they must act proactively. They must go beyond simply not providing funds for the implementation of Obamacare. CRS explains: “Precedents require that the language be phrased in the negative, for example, that ‘none of the funds provided in this paragraph (typically an account) shall be used for’ a specified activity.”

The solution as suggested above is very similar to one I suggested here back in November, viz, separate and restrictive funding for all agencies implicated in the numerous undesirable Obama initiatives. There, I suggested

If the new Congress takes its obligations and powers seriously by initiating many separate, agency specific, selective, and detailed appropriations bills, the Obama administration will be between a rock and a hard place indeed. “No funds hereby appropriated for the ___ (insert here EPA, FCC, Department of Justice, Department of Education, etc.) shall be used to … .” For example, if the separate EPA appropriations bill were to prohibit the use of any funds thereby appropriated for the promulgation, adoption, or enforcement of any rule or regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions to less than some stated number of parts per million, the president could veto it. He would not, because that would in effect shut down the entire EPA; that would hardly serve his objectives and would visibly irritate mainly his remaining comrades. Indeed, it would have almost but not quite the same effect as abolishing the EPA outright, which the Congress without a veto proof majority could not do. Unlike the situation with a massive omnibus appropriations bill, a veto won’t shut down the entire government and won’t work because the inoffensive parts of the government could continue to function. Refusal of the Democratic Party-controlled Senate to approve the House bill wouldn’t work either, for the same reason. Even “lame-duck” legislation can be effectively repealed by refusing to fund it.

I expanded on this notion here and here with specific reference to ObamaCare.  As noted last November and in the two more recent articles cited, these things will require that lots of time and work be devoted to the effort by CongressCritters and their staff members.  As to ObamaCare, it will be necessary to study thousands of pages of  legislation, section by section and link by link to other statutes, to determine what should not be funded and what should not be funded.  This should have been started last December but apparently wasn’t. Instead, various efforts at outright repeal have been made, with the anticipated lack of success.  That was apparently thought an appropriate way to bring to heel some Democrats up for election next year and to get approval from voters who thought it would be an easy solution;  many Republicans had pushed that as a campaign issue. Now it’s time finally to get to work and to do it right, in a way likely to succeed.

That language would be difficult tedious to write, but work is what our CongressCritters are elected to do and what their staff people are paid to do. After reducing specific agency appropriations in amounts previously appropriated for ObamaCare purposes, language similar to this should be included: “No funds hereby or previously appropriated shall be used for any activity involved in the implementation of ____ or otherwise to ____.” The first blank should be filled in with ObamaCare legislative references which authorize implementation activities and the second to specify the activities not to be implemented or enforced. Should it be deemed necessary, there could be additional language authorizing the expenditure of funds to wind up previous efforts to implement ObamaCare; that could be dangerous unless it were done very precisely.