by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
James Capretta and Jeffrey Anderson advise in a Weekly Standard column that Republican congressional leaders should fight implementation of the federal health care law as they haggle with their Democratic counterparts over the federal budget.
Between now and the end of the calendar year, congressional Republicans and the Obama White House will engage in a protracted struggle over fiscal matters. The pile-up of must-do budgetary items now on the agenda makes that certain, starting with the need for stop-gap funding before October 1 to keep the government open and running. From there, Congress will need to increase the debt limit by November (according to the Obama administration’s projections) to allow the U.S. Treasury to continue financing the large deficits that no conceivable budget plan will eliminate in the short-term. And before January, Congress will again be pushed to eliminate the nearly 30 percent cut in Medicare physician fees required next year under current law—just as it has done every year for the past decade—and to pay for these added Medicare costs with offsetting spending cuts.
Such must-do budgetary items present a prime opportunity for Republicans. Legislation addressing these matters cannot get to the president’s desk without going through the Republican-controlled House. Moreover, the Obama administration cannot effectively run the executive branch using stop-gap funding measures. Such measures don’t provide enough certainty for agencies to make significant spending decisions, which means chaos for governance. At some point, therefore, the president will want to cut a deal with House and Senate Republican leaders to take budget uncertainty off the table for at least one year.
So the question is, when that time comes—probably in the days leading up to the holiday season in December—what should be the top priority of the GOP? Both for substantive and political reasons, Republicans should make it clear that their main objective is to delay as much of Obamacare as possible.