Earlier this week on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel program, Kentucky senator Rand Paul talked about how Republicans in Congress should move forward on Obamacare. The Republican senator seemed to endorse the strategy of defunding the health care law in the upcoming budget battle but indicated that delaying the individual mandate may be more likely to pass.
Asked by Hannity about his express support for the Ted Cruz-Mike Lee "defund" strategy, Paul said that "it's the only method at this time to do anything" about Obamacare, but then added, "I may not be able to guarantee victory."
"But what I can guarantee is I will stand up if the House were to defund it. The Senate probably won't," Paul said. "So the ultimate compromise is we take it away from Obama's agenda and back towards ours, which may not be defunding it."
"Delay it?" Hannity asked.
"You start out with defunding it in order to maybe get to a delay or maybe to get to where the individual mandate goes away since the employer mandate he's already delayed," Paul responded. "Why don't we use our leverage by having the Republican House to, at the very least, get to delaying the individual mandate?" Watch the video below:
Paul echoes arguments made by the boss in an editorial in next week's issue:
The good news is that most of the nation remains as opposed to Obamacare today as it was three years ago, when the law was enacted. Indeed, most polls show the public even more skeptical today—as the Wall Street Journal reports, “public support for the law has waned and Republican opposition has held steady.” In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in July, 47 percent of respondents said the law was a bad idea, compared to 34 percent who thought it a good one. So the prospects for comprehensive repeal of this comprehensively bad law remain bright.
Unfortunately most of the nation voted to reelect President Obama last November and gave Democrats continued control of the Senate. So comprehensive repeal isn’t in the cards now. The right course for the moment is delay.
The case for delay is easy to make. President Obama, after all, has already delayed parts of Obamacare, including the employer mandate, the income and health status verification requirements for individuals in state-based exchanges, and the requirement that employer health insurance plans cap employees’ out-of-pocket deductible costs. What is the case, then, against delaying the individual mandate in tandem with the employer mandate? Such a delay would be fair—it tells you a lot about the Obama administration’s affinity for crony capitalism that the parts of the law Obama has chosen to delay have been those that big business most wanted to have delayed—and prudent. There will be no way to verify the income and health status of the individuals mandated to join the exchanges. What is the case against delaying the exchanges as a whole? They lack adequate privacy and security measures, and they are plagued by broader implementation problems that are becoming increasingly obvious across the nation. You don’t have to be a long-standing critic or die-hard opponent of Obamacare to see that its implementation looks to be a real mess.
This means the case for a year’s delay, at least of Obamacare’s individual mandate and the exchanges, can be made in a practical and relatively nonpolemical way. This is useful if you’re trying to win over undecided citizens and congressmen and senators. What’s more, delay buys time to further make the case against Obamacare as a whole, and to develop in far more detail and depth, and to build more consensus around, the conservative alternatives to Obamacare.
There are also aspects of Obamacare that can and should be overturned posthaste. For example, the Obama administration has come up with a bureaucratic dispensation to provide special treatment for senators and congressmen in the exchanges. This surely won’t be easy to defend to the American people. Congress should repeal it when it returns from recess.
Nineteen conservative activists have signed a letter to Republican leaders in Congress urging the body to fight to delay all of the provisions of Obamacare set to go into effect in 2014. (Update: the number of signatories has increased to 33.)
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on the de-fund vs. delay Obamacare debate, the so-called 'phony' scandals that aren't going away, and the Chris Christie/Rand Paul schoolyard brawl.