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What’s the End Game for Obamacare?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Speaking “on the condition of anonymity,” a Republican lawmaker told one Capitol Hill newspaper last week that conservatives pushing to stop the implementation of Obamacare had “no plan B.”

Before diving into the substance of the criticism, let’s spend a minute on how that criticism was delivered. Folks in Washington love speaking “on the condition of anonymity.” In a meandering profile of NBC News’s Luke Russert, a reporter for the liberal New Republic wrote, “Fellow reporters related the meanest anecdotes they could think of—‘but not for attribution, OK?’”

For one reason or another, these reporters have decided criticizing Russert wasn’t a savvy career move. From that perspective, you can understand why this GOP lawmaker would not want to publicly denounce a strategy that has the support of folks like Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). You can imagine this lawmaker running into trouble back home after saying Cruz, Lee, Heritage Action and the others have “a laudable goal,” but I ain’t gonna help them fight.

If Republican lawmakers are not willing to fight the implementation of Obamacare by actively defunding the law, they must have another plan to stop it, right? I posed variations of this question to numerous folks over the past week and the answer was nearly unanimous: stunning silence.

Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) cautioned against “swinging for fences” and offered “there are more effective ways…we think that we can do better by delaying this law.”

Delay. Defund. Repeal. Halt. Block. Stop.

Absent a legislative strategy, those are just words. In a must read piece, Heritage Action’s Russ Vought explained the political strategy:

“It is wonderful that Congressmen support repealing Obamacare, but it’s not enough. The House has had numerous votes to repeal Obamacare, but the chances of statutorily repealing the law decreased once President Obama won a second term. Conservatives cannot wait another three-and-a-half years to begin dismantling Obamacare; they need to leverage current opportunities to defund Obamacare on ‘must-pass’ spending bills.”

He also explained, contrary to the assertions of many people who should know better, the implementation of Obamacare could be stopped on a spending bill:

“Defunding Obamacare means attaching a legislative rider to a ‘must pass’ bill (debt limit, annual spending bill, etc.) that 1) prohibits any funds from being spent on any activities to implement or enforce Obamacare; 2) rescinds any unspent balances that have already been appropriated for implementation; and 3) turns off the exchange subsidy and new Medicaid spending that are on auto-pilot.”

Senator Cruz and Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) have introduced legislation that would accomplish those goals. If that is swinging for the fences, then sign me up because fighting to preserve the status quo isn’t going to inspire the American people or save the country.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what some are advocating – let’s wait until 2017. Charles Krauthammer wrote, “You can’t govern from one house of Congress. You need to win back the Senate and then the presidency.”

Let’s flip Washington’s conventional wisdom upside down.

Instead of proclaiming with certainty that President Obama would never sign a bill that harmed his signature legislative accomplishment, imagine the pundits proclaiming that House Republicans would never pass a bill that funds a law they were elected to reverse.

Right now, however, almost no one in Washington – and more importantly no one outside of Washington – believes House Republicans are willing to mount a massive assault against the implementation of Obamacare. Until they do, they’ll be on the outside looking in.

Over August, Heritage Action will be traveling across the country to make the case against Obamacare. The Washington Post noted “Democrat-aligned groups already are responding aggressively.” They are preparing to “go on the offensive” over August, “deploy[ing] every tool and tactic available” to defend Obamacare and put Republicans on the defense.

Obama’s allies understand the fight is now. Will our allies wake up before it’s too late?

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