So far, the House GOP is not including Obamacare among the programs proposed for de-funding next week.
Although the Appropriations Committee has produced a bill that de-funds many other programs, it does not undo the billions of dollars that the last Congress appropriated to implement Obamacare. That omission can be and should be corrected by amendment when the legislation reaches the House floor next week.
Rescinding the billions appropriated to Obamacare would help reach the GOP’s well-publicized pledge to cut spending by $100 billion in their first year as a majority.
Some have not recognized that last year’s Congress did appropriate money for Obamacare even though it failed to pass appropriations bills for the rest of the government. Billions were appropriated for Obamacare in the final legislation, as outlined in Congressional Research Service Report R41301.
That’s a dirty little secret about the new law. As further detailed in a Heritage Foundation report, rather than respecting the right of future Congresses to decide on funding, the sponsors of the bill included current and future appropriations for Obamacare—money that mostly has not yet been spent.
Despite the recent court ruling that the new health law is unconstitutional, the White House insists it is going full speed ahead to implement the law and spend that money.
Congressmen who want to reduce spending by a full $100 billion this year should add Obamacare to the list of cuts. Appropriators say $74 billion is being saved from 70 programs in their proposal, but after offsetting add-ons others calculate the net savings is only about $35 billion. The gap between those and the $100 billion goal is causing open rebellion by conservative House Republicans.
The committee may improve these numbers on their own, or it could be done by amendments offered on the House floor. No matter how far short they are from that $100 billion goal, de-funding Obamacare would bring them billions closer.
What are some of the specific Obamacare reductions that could be made? Congress could rescind the $5 billion appropriated in Section 1101(g) to create high-risk pools, the $5 billion appropriated in Section 1102(e) for a reinsurance program, the $6 billion in Section 1322(g) to create insurance exchanges, plus the billions more in current and future funding that are outlined in the CRS report.
Other parts of Obamacare contain entitlement spending that is trickier to tackle, but the appropriations portions can and should be addressed right now.
The new House majority has a chance to keep two promises at once: reducing spending by $100 billion (for starters) and repealing (or at least de-funding) Obamacare.
Nothing should hold them back.