In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great faced the challenge of untying the enormous and complicated Gordian Knot. Many had tried and, though the reward was a kingdom, all had failed.
Alexander drew his sword and slashed the knot in two. The “Alexandrian solution” was born. Alexander received the kingdom of Phrygia, and he went on to spread civilization throughout the known world.
Obamacare is today’s Gordian knot. The law was drafted to be incredibly difficult for lawmakers to unravel. When then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), President Barack Obama, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) drafted Obamacare, they quietly included provisions that automatically spend $105.5 billion over the next 10 years to implement the law. Annual congressional appropriations are the regular order of business, yet some automatic funding continues in perpetuity.
Unprecedented in scope, these self-enacting provisions grant Obamacare its own self-contained, automatic money machine. These are the resources that fertilize this malignant tumor, which is extending its roots into every aspect of our health care system. These roots are tightening their grip, despite the House’s vote to repeal it; the public’s opposition to it, and the decisions of two federal courts ruling it unconstitutional. These roots are the Obamacare Gordian knot.
I have proposed an Alexandrian solution to the complicated $105.5 billion problem of automatic Obamacare funding. During the continuing resolution debate on funding the federal government for FY 2011, I offered an amendment to cut off all automatic Obamacare funding.
House leaders would not agree to write my amendment into the bill, an act that would have protected my language from a point of order. The next course of action was to request that the Rules Committee protect my amendment from the same point of order — a request that was refused and led to a parliamentary ruling on the floor denying my amendment a vote.
Instead of boldly adopting the Alexandrian solution, House leadership and the Rules Committee sheathed the legislative sword that would have cut the Obamacare Gordian knot.
House Republicans then proceeded to add nine amendments, two of which were mine, to the continuing resolution — to prevent its funds from being used to further the implementation of Obamacare.
These amendments, however, could not touch Obamacare’s automatic spending provisions. As a result, the Obamacare knot remains securely tied — and $105.5 billion continues to stream into federal agencies to fund and build its framework.
From the beginning, repeal strategy hinged on winning a Republican majority in the House, holding a clean up or down vote, and then shutting off funding for Obamacare’s implementation and enforcement. If we do not slash the Obamacare Gordian knot by killing the automatic funding, it will soon be a part of all our lives.
Some members fear that a direct House challenge to Obamacare funding will lead to a government shutdown and Republicans would be blamed. Others believe a confrontation is futile — because if we passed a funding ban, the president would veto it anyway.
They should instead fear the wrath of the American people, to whom we pledged to repeal and defund Obamacare. The same American people who sent 87 freshmen Republicans to Congress — all pledged to pull Obamacare out by the roots.
Will the president shut down the government rather than watch his signature program starve for lack of funds? Would he hold all government functions hostage for a king’s ransom of $105.5 billion? Then so be it.
This battle will ultimately be decided in the court of public opinion. The best opinion poll taken was the Nov. 2 election. If the president refuses to sign a continuing resolution that provides for responsible funding of all government functions except Obamacare, Americans will know that serving them is not his priority. Preserving his signature socialized medicine plan is.
This is why Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and I are circulating a letter to House members for language to be in the FY 11 CR that would shut off both the annual and the automatic appropriations for ObamaCare’s implementation. Our proposed language reads:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available by this or any previous Act with respect to any fiscal year may be used to carry out the provisions of Public Law 111-148, Public Law 111-152, or any amendment made by either such Public Law.”
This is the Alexandrian solution to cut the Obamacare Gordian knot.
More important, our letter contains a pledge to vote against any CR that lacks this language. We are asking every member of Congress who supports repealing and defunding Obamacare to sign this letter and take this pledge.
After all, the language we want added to the CR is the best solution to ensure that no additional money, regardless of its source, is expended on the discredited health-care law.
We can cut the Obamacare Gordian knot. The solution is in front of us, and the must-pass CR maximizes our political leverage and our opportunity for success. To do so, we must be willing to deliver as bold a stroke as Alexander once did — and, like him, we must be willing to fight.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is on the Healthcare and Technology Subcommittee of the House Small Business Committee.
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