“YES” on Obamacare Repeal Budget Resolution (S. CON. RES. 3)
On Friday, the House will consider a concurrent resolution (S. CON. RES. 3). While the resolution will technically set the congressional budget for the United States Government for the remaining eight months of fiscal year 2017, its only functional purpose will be to produce reconciliation instructions that unlock fast track authority that Congress can then use to repeal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Separately, there is an expectation that the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution will reflect the longstanding conservative values embedded in previous GOP budgets. But to be absolutely clear, adopting S. CON. RES 3 is the only way to expedite the repeal of Obamacare.
In November, the Mercatus Center’s Brian Blase and The Heritage Foundation’s Paul Winfree, who was recently appointed Director of Budget Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for The White House, laid out a “roadmap” on how to repeal Obamacare. The first step is to adopt the unpassed FY 17 budget that “include[s] instructions to the relevant committees in Congress” to repeal Obamacare. “This will set up the ability for Congress to pass a reconciliation bill repealing all the budgetary components of the ACA immediately after Trump is sworn into office,” Blase and Winfree continued.
S. CON. RES. 3 is the legislative vehicle that initiates that strategy. There will be many debates on the nature of the actual reconciliation bill. Those debates are important and conservatives must get those policy questions right, but absent adoption of the FY 17 budget resolution those debates are theoretical. It simply cannot be overstated, S. CON. RES. 3 represents the only mechanism to expedite the Obamacare repeal process and thus deliver on six years of campaign promises.
As that process moves forward in the coming weeks — reconciliation recommendations must be submitted to the House and Senate budget committees by January 27 — conservatives will view the reconciliation measure vetoed by President Obama as the bare minimum. That bill would have repealed the vast majority of Obamacare including the individual and employer mandates, the coverage subsidies, Medicaid expansion and the law’s onerous taxes, and included a two-year transition period. As Speaker Ryan noted last year, “We have shown now that there is a clear path to repealing Obamacare without 60 votes in the Senate. So, next year, if we’re sending this bill to a Republican president, it will get signed into law.”
Of course, the importance of repealing Obamacare is more than simply fulfilling a campaign promise; it is about beginning the process of expanding choice in and lowering costs of a health care system that is currently bankrupting the nation, hurting hardworking Americans and slowing economic growth. Last year, The Heritage Foundation’s Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., explained Americans have real, practical concerns about Obamacare that cannot be ignored or dismissed:
“Americans’ health care worries are real, and their concerns are practical. For the overwhelming majority of Americans, the right policy goal is making health care more affordable. Today, however, the ‘typical family’ pays about 35 percent of their income for health care. The temporary slowdown in health spending, which started in the early 2000s, is over, and businesses, individuals, and families are once again threatened with higher health care costs. Since 2013, premiums and deductibles in the non-group market have jumped dramatically, while millions have lost their previous coverage, notwithstanding high-profile presidential promises that they could keep it.”
Moffit went on to suggest that “there is no mystery why Americans, on everyday matters that directly concern them, continue to oppose the law.” Those reasons include, for example:
- Despite the president’s repeated promises, rising health insurance premiums continue to burden businesses and families.
- Obamacare generates big and surprising out-of-pocket costs.
- Obamacare reduces insurance competition and consumer choice.
- Obamacare destroys jobs and discourages employment.
- The overall health care cost curve is “bending” upward.
- Obamacare imposes major tax increases on America’s middle class.
- Medicare payment cuts threaten seniors’ future access to care.
- Obamacare increases deficits and debt.
- Obamacare forces Americans, in direct violation of their rights of conscience, to fund abortion through their own tax dollars.
- Obamacare imposes arbitrary rules and costly mandates.
Congressional Republicans rightly opposed President Obama’s health care reform, a reform which was never embraced or accepted by the American people. In Real Clear Politics polling, Obamacare rarely averaged above 43 percent approval. Now is the time for congressional Republicans to begin delivering on their multi-cycle campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. “The current plan” to use “budget reconciliation is a necessary first step in that process,” states James I. Wallner, Ph.D., group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation. And S. CON. RES. 3 is the only legislation that begins that process.
Heritage Action supports S. CON. RES 3 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.