Senator Corker: Obamacare defunding a 'silly effort'
Senator Bob Corker is not enamored with the effort by some GOP senators to refuse to vote for any spending bill that contains money to implement Obamacare.
"Oh, I think it's a silly effort," the Tennessee Republican said on MSNBC's "The Daily Rundown." "What people are really saying who are behind that effort is we don't have the courage to roll up our sleeves and deal with real deficit reduction and spending decisions -- we want to take ourselves out of the debate and act like we're being principled to the American people by saying if there's one dime of funding for Obamacare, we're not going to vote for the CR," or Continuing Resolution.
"I don't look at that as very courageous ... most of us see through it and realize that most of these people are really just taking themselves out of the debate," he continued. "We've got an opportunity to get our country [right] as it relates to fiscal issues. We've taken some big steps, and when people take themselves out of the game like this, I think people see through it and understand what's really taking place."
Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, and 11 other senators have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, saying they will not support any appropriations measures that include money to implement or enforce Obamacare. More than 60 House Republicans have sent a similar letter urging Speaker John A. Boehner to do the same.
"We have a chance to stop this, and it may be our last, best chance, and it comes in September when we have to pass a short-term budget in the chamber," Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said recently on the Senate floor. "To my Republican colleagues, I would just say this: if we're not going to draw a line in the sand on Obamacare, we have no lines in the sand."
But other GOP senators, such as Tom Coburn of Oklahoma -- an ardent foe of Obamacare who would never be accused of supporting profligate spending -- have dismissed the effort as unrealistic and potentially harmful to the party.
As a practical matter, the defunders can't accomplish much. There are going to be few appropriations that deal directly with Obamacare implementation. Almost all the implementation money is folded into other spending requirements.
For example, the IRS must enforce the individual mandate. But there are no Obamacare dedicated funds in the IRS budget that can be cut for that purpose. The funds to enforce the mandate will come from the agency's budget dedicated to enforce all tax laws.
And the subsidies are untouchable unless congress repeals them and President Obama signs the repeal. The insurance subsidies are entitlements - spending is automatic. As with food stamp cuts, congress would have to act on the subsidies separately with both the senate and House passing legislation and the president signing off on it. It's not going to happen.
This is what Corker, Coburn, and many other GOP Senators are saying is silly. Better to work on cutting the deficit and then taking the case for repeal of Obamacare to the people in 2016.