The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 1, 2013

Separate Obamacare funding from main budget

Defunding can happen without government shutdown

The Mankato Free Press

---- — During the Congress August recess word was spread by some, campaign style, that Republicans want to shut-down the government. I don’t think that’s the end goal.

Congress has failed to pass a budget in about four years so the government continues to operate under a series of continuing resolutions. What some are actually proposing is that Congress fund normal government under another continuing resolution, but refuse to fund Obamacare — about one-sixth (17 percent) of the economy.

Recent polls show most Americans dislike Obamacare. Many favor outright repeal for economic and other reasons. I doubt the expensive crusade trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear will change many opinions.

Moving slightly off-topic for a moment, the way I see it “single payer” for everyone is not the solution. Space does not permit me to address reasons, but they are available with a little research. For those who might accuse me of stating a problem without suggesting a solution, maybe the health care bill of Rep. Tom Price, M.D., R-Ga., would be better received. But I digress.

Should such a continuing resolution proposal discussed above pass the Republican majority in the House, which controls the power of the purse, but be rejected by the Democrat controlled Senate, who should be held responsible for shutting-down the government? Should the proposal pass the House and Senate but the president refuse to compromise and casts his veto, who should held responsible for shutting-down the government?

By compromising and agreeing to isolate Obamacare funding from the continuing resolution a government shut-down could probably be avoided. If not, lets review just a few consequences of the 1995/96 temporary government shutdown. I remember President Bill Clinton saying in his Jan. 23, 1996 State of the Union address: “The era of big government is over...”. With Obamacare I think it’s back, and bigger than ever. Single payer would increase the scope of government even more.

But that 28-day shutdown did set the stage for welfare reform. It also produced the 1997 balanced budget deal, the first of four consecutive balanced budgets last achieved in the 1920’s. And oh, Republicans gained two seats in the Senate and retained a 228-207 seat majority in the House.

Even if the government were temporarily shut down the only services shut-down would be non-essential services. Continuous pay for those serving in the military, their families and veterans benefits must be exempted from any possible government shutdown. They were exempted from the 10 shutdowns between 1980 and 1996, and must be exempted again. In my opinion, if they are not it would be an undeniable circuitous effort to save Obamacare (at least temporarily) on the backs of military people.

So to those tepid Republicans fearful they would be blamed for a government shutdown regardless of where the responsibility actually lies, I say no risk, no reward so do what’s right and risk the consequences.

Bob Jentges is a former teacher, coach and insurance claims superintendent and lives in North Mankato.