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Republicans versus Freedom

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House Republicans have voted once again to repeal Obamacare — for the thirty-third time.

By a vote of 244-185, all the House Republicans, along with five Democrats, voted in favor of repealing the whole of Obamacare. The simple 8-page bill (H.R.6079), called the “Repeal of Obamacare Act,” finds with respect to the impact of Public Law 111–148 (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [PPACA]) and related provisions of Public Law 111–152 (the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) that

  1. in spite of Barack Obama’s promises, under Obamacare, tens of millions of Americans are at risk of losing their health-care coverage.
  2. Obamacare will make coverage more expensive for millions of Americans;
  3. Obamacare cuts more than half a trillion dollars in Medicare and uses the funds to create a new entitlement program;
  4. Obamacare creates a 15-member, unelected Independent Payment Advisory Board that is empowered to make binding decisions regarding what treatments Medicare will cover and how much Medicare will pay;
  5. Obamacare and the more than 13,000 pages of related regulations issued before July 11, 2012, are causing great uncertainty, slowing economic growth, and limiting hiring opportunities for the unemployed;
  6. Obamacare imposes 21 new or higher taxes on American families and businesses, including 12 taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year;
  7. in spite of Obama’s promises, Obamacare expands the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion; and
  8. Obamacare creates a new nationwide requirement for health plans to cover “essential health benefits” and “preventive services,” but does not allow stakeholders to opt out of covering items or services to which they have a religious or moral objection.

The Repeal of Obamacare Act then does just that:

SEC. 3. REPEAL OF OBAMACARE

(a) PPACA. — Effective as of the enactment of Public Law 111–148, such Act (other than subsection (d) of section 1899A of the Social Security Act, as added and amended by sections 3403 and 10320 of such Public Law) is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act (other than such subsection (d)) are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.

(b) HEALTH CARE-RELATED PROVISIONS IN THE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT OF 2010. — Effective as of the enactment of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–152), title I and subtitle B of title II of such Act are repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such title or subtitle, respectively, are restored or revived as if such title and subtitle had not been enacted.

(The amendments to the Social Security Act concern the establishment and empowerment of an Independent Medicare Advisory Board to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending.)

All of the five Democrats who went against their party and supported the Republican repeal effort voted against Obamacare when it was originally passed with no Republican votes on March 21, 2010. Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.) and Mike Ross (Ark.), both known as conservative Democrats, are not seeking reelection. The other three — Reps. Larry Kissell (N.C.), Jim Matheson (Utah), and Mike McIntyre (N.C) — face tough reelection battles.

This Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare was the first since the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Obamacare “individual mandate.” There are certain to be other attempts as well.

The reason the House of Representatives keeps voting to repeal Obamacare is that the bill they pass never goes anywhere in the Senate. Republicans control the House 242-193, but Democrats control the Senate 51-47 (with two Independents who vote as Democrats).

So the House Republican vote to repeal Obamacare is just symbolic. Like much of what Republicans do, it is just political theater, since there is absolutely no chance that the Democratic-controlled Senate will ever agree to the legislation and even less of a chance that Obama will sign into law a bill repealing the legislation that bears his name.

The show put on by House Republicans makes it looks as though they are defenders of individual liberty and limited government. But at the same time they are voting to repeal Obamacare, Republicans in the House are also voting to pass insidious legislation that wars against individual liberty and limited government.

The New American magazine’s “Freedom Index” for the 112th Congress has just been released. The higher the number on this index, the stronger a congressman’s “adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.” Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) scores a perfect 100 virtually every time the index is published (about twice a year). He didn’t do so this time, but only because he didn’t make the minimum number of required votes, since he was out campaigning for president. Although three Republicans in the Senate earned a score of 100, no one from either party did in the House.

The ten issues that members of the 112th Congress in the House are being rated on this time are: blocking EPA regulations, the omnibus appropriations bill, the debt limit, a line-item veto, the Keystone Pipeline project, repealing the death panels in Obamacare, government data collection, the Export-Import Bank, national ocean policy, and the indefinite-detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act.

The Republican votes on two of those issues caught my eye.

The Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 (H.R.2072) reauthorized the Export-Import Bank for two years and increased its lending cap from $100 billion to $140 billion. The Export-Import Bank is a government corporation that issues loans and loan guarantees to international buyers to help them purchase U.S. products. It also provides insurance policies to U.S. companies and banks to mitigate risks of noncollection from foreign buyers and borrowers. In other words, the Export-Import Bank provides corporate welfare backed by U.S. taxpayers. And as the New American comments, “The federal government has no constitutional authority risking taxpayers’ money to provide loans and terms that the private sector considers too risky to provide.” There were 147 Republicans in the House who joined all 183 Democrats in reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank. Only 93 Republicans voted against doing so.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R.4310) does just that — it authorizes appropriations to the Department of Defense (DOD) for the next fiscal year. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) offered an amendment (H.AMDT.1127) to strike language from the bill, in the words of the New American, “so sweeping that American citizens accused of being terrorists can be detained by the U.S. military and held indefinitely without habeas corpus and without even being tried and found guilty in a court of law.” Said Representative Smith, “This is an extraordinary amount of power to give to the president, to give the government the power to take away an individual’s rights and lock them up with nothing more than one quick court hearing, without the due process rights protection in our Constitution. It’s not needed. This is our opportunity to repeal it.” Now, although there is far more wrong with the National Defense Authorization Act than just the indefinite-detention provision, as I pointed out the last time this bill was passed, Smith’s amendment is a noble attempt to protect Americans’ civil liberties. Yet 219 Republicans voted against the amendment with only 19 Republicans voting for it.

So while Republicans put on a show and vote to repeal Obamacare, they are at the same time waging war on the Constitution, the taxpayer, and freedom.

Sometimes Republicans don’t even try to hide their hypocrisy: On the eve of the 2010 midterm election House Republicans released their “Pledge to America” promising a “new governing agenda for America” that “stands on the principles of smaller, more accountable government.” On the very same day, they also voted in overwhelming numbers along with Democrats to pass four pieces of legislation that violate the very pledge that the Republicans maintained they would adhere to if the voters gave them a majority in the House: The Family Health Care Accessibility Act, The Emergency Medic Transition Act, The National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Reauthorization Act, and The Training and Research for Autism Improvements Nationwide Act.

If Republicans were really interested in medical freedom, they would vote to repeal not just Obamacare, but an earlier version of health-care reform: the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.

The reason that that legislation will never be repealed is that it was introduced by the Republican House Speaker, supported by the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, passed with overwhelming Republican support, and signed into law by a Republican president.

So when the Republicans in the House vote to repeal Obamacare for the thirty-fourth time, remember that it is all just political theater. No one who believes in the government’s forcing people to pay for the health care of others should be taken seriously when he questions the government’s forcing people to purchase health insurance for themselves.

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