The Capitol Hill Report

-- CRS concedes the “Individual Mandate” would shut down

(1) The CRS Memorandum of July 29, 2013, Starts From a Biased Narrative and Reaches a Predictable Biased Conclusion.

CRS asks (and tries to answer) the question of whether, by shutting down the government, Republicans can shut down ObamaCare. It clearly wants to reach the conclusion that all of the “wonderful” things government does will cease, but ObamaCare will continue. And it does this, despite the fact that the law and precedents it cites prove exactly the opposite.

First, House Republicans, if they’re smart, will send Harry Reid and Barack Obama long-tem and short-term CR’s every day of the week -- their CR’s will differ from Obama’s position only in one respect: they will either defund ObamaCare or defund the individual mandate.

Thus, if Reid and Obama choose to shut down the government for the sole purpose of forcing people to buy abortion funding politically correct gold-plated insurance, that will be their decision.

This will happen on the same day (October 1) that tens of millions of Americans will be flipping their lids as they learn the prohibitively high cost of ObamaCare premiums.

(2) Every Indication is That Tens of Millions of People Will Flip Their Lids When the Exchanges Come on Line.

It should tell you something that the premiums are largely being kept secret, while the Obama administration and its sycophantic press contingent leaks out a daily story to try and put the program in the most optimistic light.

But even the rosy leakage reveals some terrifying news for Obama:

* New Hampshire’s largest newspaper reported that the cheapest policy available on that state’s exchange (which has only one insurer) would be $398 a month for young non-smokers. That is $4800 a year -- for the cheapest policy.

* When its exchange comes on line (late), Oregon (which is presumably being touted as a “success story”) will offer low-end coverage to a 26-year-old earning $26,000 for roughly $2,600 (AFTER the virtually non-existent subsidy) -- leaving the debt-saddled young person with a bill for 10% of their income for coverage they will most likely never use.

* Even the limited “catastrophic” option is being offered only to young people who will never use it, is being lauded as costing only $1200 a year (with deductibles so high that it is like flushing money down the toilet).

And these are the premiums the Obama administration chooses to brag about.

(3) The Essential Functions of the Government Will Not Shut Down Because of “Legal Opinions and Guidance Documents Issued by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel and the Office of Management and Budget.” [CRS p.1]

Just because the CRS criticizes precedent allowing the important parts of the government to function as “arguably hav[ing] been read broadly” doesn’t make them any less definitive.

Furthermore, if the House really wants to chime in on keeping Social Security, air traffic controllers, national parks, etc., it can pass a bill stating that these are essential functions which will not be interrupted. Thus, their continuation pursuant to Article I, Section 9, and the Antideficiency Act will be in accordance with the “law.”

If Obama comes up with another horror story, the House can have another bill keeping the function open on its way to the Senate by the end of the day.

(4) Thus, Whatever Government Showdown Occurs – and it Will Hurt Obama Voters Much More Than GOP Voters – It will Occur Because Obama Chooses to Kill the CR for the Sole Purpose of Forcing Americans to Buy Expensive Insurance Against Their Will.

(5) It’s Pretty Clear That, Using the CRS’s Own Precedents, the Mandate Will Shut Down if the Government Does.

(A) CRS concedes that the $1 billion of previously appropriated funds to the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund (HIRIF) that has previously been used to fund the IRS “would be obligated by the end of FY2012.”

(B) IRS enforcement of the mandate is not a “nonrecurring expense” which can be funded from a fund for that purpose, nor can it be funded by any trust fund established under ObamaCare, and, at a cost of $400 million, is too large to be legally reprogrammed from another account.

(C) The Antideficiency Act has been interpreted to prohibit “all audit functions, examination of returns, and processing of non-electronic tax returns that did not include remittances…” [CRS p. 8]

(D) The CRS argument that the IRS would just start levying penalties once the government opened up again is genuinely bizarre and suggests the convoluted extent that CRS will go to reach the conclusion it wants. We’re talking about a battle going on in October 2013; and no one is required to buy insurance until almost three months later. If Congress succeeds in prohibiting funds for the mandate, the answer is “no, the IRS will never be able to impose penalties.”

Mike Hammond is GOA’s Legislative Counsel.

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