Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) appeared on Fox News Sunday and seemed to confirm how pointless a threat to defund Obamacare would be.
Here is the exchange with host Chris Wallace:
LEE: You know, we always knew Obamacare was going to be unaffordable. We now also know that it’s going to be unfair. The president has said that he’s not ready to implement this law. And because he’s not ready to implement it, he’s going to selectively enforce it. He is going to, you know, give a big pass to big business while simultaneously telling hard-working Americans, individuals that they have to comply with these laws demands or else they’ll face stiff penalties under federal law.
So, what I’m saying is that if the president is not ready to implement the law, if the law is not ready for prime, Congress shouldn’t fund it.
WALLACE: But, again, I mean, regardless of the logic of your argument, the president isn’t going to go for it. Democrats in the Senate aren’t going to go for it. They’re not going to accept it. Are you prepared to shut down the government over this issue?
LEE: Look, Chris, we all know that the government is going to get funded. The only question is whether the government gets funded with Obamacare or without it? And what I’m saying is that the president has said he’s not ready to implement the law, he said that the law isn’t ready for primetime. And so, if he’s not ready, if the law is not ready, we can’t fund it.
WALLACE: Democrats are bashing you over this stance, but you’re also taking some heavy fire from fellow Republicans in the Senate, and other places. . . . Five Senate Republicans who originally signed on your effort — no government funding unless you stop funding Obamacare — have now dropped out of your effort and one of your Senate Republican colleague is calling it, his words not mine, “One of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard.”
LEE: Well, Chris, the fact is that this really isn’t about Republican versus Democrat. It’s not about liberal or conservative. This is yet another instance of Washington versus everyone else.
And we’ve got to stop Washington from dividing the American people. We’ve got to stop Washington from hurting the American people. That’s what’s happening here.
The fact is that Americans, by a margin of about 2-1, believe that this law will make their health care situation worse, not better. Only 12 percent support the individual mandate.
Businesses don’t like it. Individuals hate it. Union leaders say it will be bad for workers. And even the law’s principal author in the Senate describes it as a train wreck.
The law is bad. The law is certainly not ready to implement and we shouldn’t fund it.
WALLACE: But Republican leaders, finally, would make this point — they say a funding bill, funding the government is only going to last for a year or even less. So, even if you got what you wanted, you wouldn’t kill Obamacare. You would simply delay it for a year. They also say, if we were to follow your logic and end up either with a government shutdown or if you tied it to an increase in the debt limit, that it’s precisely the kind of action, which you heard from Karl Rove, that it’s going to make it hard for Republicans to keep control of the House and have any chance of winning the Senate.
LEE: Look, I understand that there’s some in the Washington establishment, some from both political parties that weren’t happy with me over this. And in this instance, I’m going to take that as a compliment, an indication that I’m doing something right.
The fact is that we can delay this bill, maybe we can’t repeal it right, but we can delay its funding. And if we can delay it, we can stop its consequences, at least for now. And we have to do that.
There are many of us who were elected specifically with this mandate, that we’ve got to stop this law. We have an even stronger reason to that now because the president has said he is not going to enforce it. He is not ready to enforce. And so, he is going to selectively implement the law.
Holding hardworking Americans to the fire, subjecting them to these horrendous fines, while simultaneously exempting big business, that’s not fair. It’s not right, and we shouldn’t fund that effort.
No clue is given as to how this works since the president and Senate have made crystal clear they aren’t going to play this game and would be delighted to blame the Republicans. Under no scenario would the Democrats ever agree to end Obamacare funding, so the only question would be how fast GOP hardliners capitulated. It is simply a non sequitur to answer “the law is bad” or “the establishment doesn’t believe us” when asked how this would work in practice.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is no squish and he had it right when he told a reporter last week:
I think it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Listen, as long as Barack Obama is president the Affordable Care Act is gonna be law. I think some of these guys need to understand that you shut down the federal government, you better have a specific reason to do it that’s achievable. Defunding the Affordable Care Act is not achievable through shutting down the federal government.”
There are few certainties in politics, but one is that Anthony Weiner won’t be mayor of New York and the other is that the GOP is not going to defund Obamacare on its namesake’s watch. Weiner is making a fool of himself; conservatives should hope Lee and others don’t do the same.