Vol 30, Issue 32 Print Issue

Guest Column: Shut Down Obamacare, Not the Government

Texas’ junior senator in Washington, D.C., is causing quite a stir. This is nothing new, considering Ted Cruz has been doing just that since being sworn in January. Cruz has not followed the advice that freshman senators are there to be seen, not heard. And I, along with many other Texans, am glad he is defying conventional wisdom.

He now finds himself in the eye of the storm regarding the upcoming debate on the federal government’s continuing resolution — which will allow the federal government to operate for a bit longer (it appears D.C. has all but given up actually passing a budget during the Obama presidency).

At issue is Cruz’s advice to defund Obamacare as part of the package to keep the federal government running. This idea has been met with consternation, ridicule and outrage. (And I’ll get to the Democrats response later!) The basic argument against the defund strategy goes like this: If Republicans choose to defund Obamacare, then the federal government will shut down. If the federal government shuts down, the Republicans will be blamed for it. If the Republicans are blamed for it, then the disastrous consequences of the mid-1990s shutdown will be repeated. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the government going and live to fight another day, on another issue.

There are decent people on that side of the argument. However, I prefer Cruz’s strategy. First of all, the scenario he has proposed is not analogous to the shutdown in the mid '90s. The senator has posited that Republicans should fund all of the government except Obamacare. In the mid '90s, the entire federal budget was held ransom to the shutdown. Secondly, as one close Obama advisor put it, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

What we are seeing every day out of D.C. is the inability of the Affordable Care Act and its caretakers to properly implement (or understand) the law. U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presciently stated, “We have to pass the bill to know what is in it.” Unfortunately, the more we come to know what is in it, the more the American people do not like what they see. This past week provided a perfect snapshot of the effect Obamacare is having on the country.

In the past few days we learned that UPS will no longer cover spouses for health care. Delta Airlines has said that its health care costs would skyrocket $100 million in 2014. The Nevada AFL-CIO admitted that Obamacare hurts full-time employee prospects. And retailer Forever 21 has announced reduced hours for employees because it cannot bear the weight of the costs associated with Obamacare.

Add to these items the president’s unconstitutional decision to postpone the employer mandate until after mid-term elections in 2015, congressional staffers and aides doing all they can to obtain a waiver from the bill many of their bosses helped write, and the fact the Obama administraton has failed to meet any meaningful deadline for implementation of the behemoth health care bill, and it is easy to see why Cruz is calling for the defunding of the legislation.

The bill was so ill-conceived and rushed through Congress that Americans have no idea of what this legislation will look like in six months, let alone six years. Now, Cruz is taking the bold step and calling for its complete defunding. What is so alarming is the opposition he is facing in his own party from elected officials who have denounced Obamacare with ferocity but are unwilling to take the steps necessary to fix the problem.

The senator has presented a sensible solution. Fund the federal government except Obamacare. Then President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will be forced to make the decision to defund the president’s signature piece of legislation or shut down the government (my guess is on the latter). Then, as Cruz has said, conservatives will have to do something they have not done in a while — win the argument. But, it can happen with articulate and knowledgeable men such as Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, leading the charge. And now is the perfect time to make that move. Obamacare continues to be deeply unpopular, its policies wildly unpredictable, and its effects incredibly harmful to the economy and our nation as a whole.

If this is not the issue to fight on, what is? I applaud Cruz’s efforts and join in his desire to “defund it.”

Krause, R-Fort Worth, represents District 93 in the Texas House.