Jim Inhofe Supports Defund ObamaCare – Tom Coburn Doesn’t: What Both Sides Claim – What’s The Takeaway?

I received an email today from Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK). He has joined with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and other Republican Senators to defund ObamaCare. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) wants “a way to do it that kills it…, ” but defunding isn’t the way to do it. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) agrees with Coburn and called the Tea Party a “loose political movement.” The lines are drawn in fresh concrete. Rush Limbaugh interviewed Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) today and Coburn’s position is argued against in that interview below.

Jim Inhofe

Jim Inhofe

Pullout Quote:

RUSH:  …Okay… I guess the take-away is the people who were saying that the spending is mandatory and cannot be removed, that’s not correct?

LEE:  It’s not true.  As much as they might wish that were the case, it is not.

Senator Inhofe’s commitment:

The Republican Senators who have joined me in signing the pledge are so committed that we will let Democrats shut down the government before we will approve Obamacare to be funded.

People like Senator Cruz and I are serious about making sure that Obamacare is stopped before it is fully enforced. This legislation would only hurt our health care system and our economy, and we will not stand for it.

We have signed the pledge and made the promise to defund Obamacare. Now it’s your turn. Will you join myself, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and other Republican leaders and contribute to defund Obamacare today?

Let’s win this battle to block its funding. Donate $10 today to help guarantee it. 

I made my donation – to Inhofe.

Let’s discuss both sides of this very emotional and divisive issue among Republicans. I believe Tom Coburn does want ObamaCare repeal, but believes it cannot be defunded because most of the funding is mandatory, and it cannot be repealed – the votes are not there, Obama would veto a repeal, and shutting down the government is untenable. Mike Lee asserts there is no plan to shutdown the government.

Tom Coburn

Tom Coburn

COBURN: I don’t think it’s achievable. A good portion of the health-care law is mandatory spending and repealing that would require two-thirds of the House and 67 votes in the Senate. I don’t see that happening.

I don’t see how you passing a CR [continuing resolution to fund the government] that does this. And let’s say you do, and the President vetoes the CR. Then what happens? How fast do members of Congress who voted for that strategy fold when the government shuts down? I’ve been here when we’ve done that, and it’s not a strategy that works. This is misleading the conservative base because it’s not achievable, and all it will do in the long run is dispirit the base. This is a failed strategy for conservatives.

How many people are going to close down the government over ‘I want to get rid of Obamacare’? I’ve lead the charge against it, and I’m not going to do that. What I do want to do is able to be in a position where we can fix it later. With something like this, you’re setting the base up for an expectation of something that won’t happen.

So Senator Coburn’s issue is we cannot shutdown the government.

COBURN: …What we should be doing instead is putting other things on the table, like the individual mandate delay, repealing the medical device tax or putting prohibitions on discretionary spending for Obamacare. Then those all have to be evaluated.

You can’t defend letting rich businesses off and not letting individuals off. Nobody wants the medical device tax. And most of the American public thinks you should have to have the right income to qualify for benefits, and have that verified. Source: Washington Post

The bottom line for Coburn is that shutting down the government is a fine idea, as long as the spines in the House and Senate stay strong, but he believes the collective spines will collapse, and further points to being a Republican in the midst of a government shut-down years ago. He believes it hurt the party. Below you’ll see Rush Limbaugh saying only the media thought it hurt Republicans and he offers stats to prove it.

Coburn also said “they don’t have a microphone.” That’s a miserable excuse, not to mention ridiculous. Every Congressman and Senator can find a microphone – Democrats always find a mic. I’ve noticed that few Republicans, especially in the Senate, will speak-out about anything that is not the concern of a committee he/she serves on. Maybe it’s a Rule – only the Chairmen speak, but if it is, it needs to stop. We need everyone at the mic, we need their opinions on their websites and in editorials. We need their opinions publicly stated – loud and proud and often.

Mike Lee

Mike Lee

Moving now to Senator Mike Lee who is engineering the defund effort along with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Lee interviewed with Rush Limbaugh today. The following are selected portions of the interview you can read in its entirety here (all emphasis is mine and I moved one paragraph to fit with the same topic elsewhere in the discussion):

RUSH: …What is being said by the establishment, by Washington…is this.  Look, 98, 99% of Obamacare is autopilot spending. It can’t be cut. It is just like any entitlement — Social Security, Medicare — we can’t stop it.  But wouldn’t that be the truth in a normal budgetary process, but we’re talking about continuing resolutions here, and doesn’t that make that entirely different?

LEE:  Well, those who are saying we can’t touch this because it’s mandatory spending are simply wrong.  They’re simply mistaken, or perhaps they’ve been misinformed.  The point is that Congress can decide to pass any kind of spending bill it wants.  The fact that you’ve got mandatory spending that’s already been authorized for Obamacare’s implementation doesn’t mean that can’t be cut.  We can run this with an amendment — in fact, an amendment has already been drafted up to make it so that we fund everything else in government but we claw back, we restrict funding for Obamacare, both mandatory and discretionary…

RUSH:  What about the argument that there’s no way you’re ever going to get 51 votes for this?

LEE:  Okay.  So the argument that we’re never going to win so we shouldn’t even try overlooks the fact that if every Republican who claims to be against Obamacare simply said, “I’m not going to vote to fund Obamacare,” we would win.  There would be no way that you could fund Obamacare unless you got some Republicans in the House and some Republicans in the Senate to vote for it.  And so that’s why we’re encouraging people to get behind this effort, to communicate with their congressman and their senators and to say, “Please don’t do this.”

And people can find out who is where on this position at a website we set up for this purpose.  It’s dontfundobamacare.com.  They can go to dontfundobamacare.com, where they can be directed to the identities of those senators and those representatives who are with us and those who have not yet joined our cause.

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

What if people actually like ObamaCare once implemented?

RUSH: …The subsidies equal Santa Claus and the Republicans don’t want to take a stand against it now since it’s already the law of the land and they’ve got enough trouble being perceived as anti- this and anti-poor and anti- you name it, so they don’t want to be on record as opposing subsidies or help for people who need it because it isn’t gonna help ’em, and they’re worried that somewhere down the line public opinion on this is gonna shift and people are gonna end up liking it.

LEE:  …once they’re in place, they’re almost impossible to get rid of.  You got death, you got taxes, and you’ve got entitlements.  So it’s better to stop this thing before it kicks in, before it starts, you know, buying some loyalty among those who will never let it go away, than it would be to let it kick in and just hope and expect we can repeal it later.  That becomes much more difficult.

Remember the illegalities:

LEE: …this was a law supposedly passed by, you know, a democratically elected Congress [not a single Republican in either Chamber voted for the Affordable Care Act]. Well, in a sense that’s true, but we have to remember…that it’s been amended now four times.  It’s been amended four times by people who didn’t have the authorityIt’s been amended twice by the Supreme Court, as I explained in my book, Why John Roberts was Wrong About Healthcare, amended the statute two times in order to make it constitutional, even though they found it wasn’t. Two more times by the president who didn’t have the power to change it, but still did.

Why aren’t Republicans more forceful in standing up for this conservative issue:

RUSH:  …A lot of people — Senator, you might be among them — think that the country, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, that we’re hanging by a thread here.  That this country’s in the midst  of a purposeful transformation that makes government not just the center of everybody’s life, but essential, and people do not want that to happen. They’ve always thought the Republican Party stood against that, so why not just stand up, even if you’re afraid people might end up liking it, the fact that it’s not good for the country to make even more people totally dependent on government for another aspect of their lives.  It simply is not good for the country or for them.  Why can’t that be said and have it said aggressively and compassionately and use that to attract voters and grow the party?

LEE:  The biggest single reason why that’s not being said at this point is because we don’t yet have enough members of Congress, in the House and in the Senate, who have seen the electoral benefits, the political benefits that will come from making the right policy choice.

We see that good politics necessarily flow from good policy.  The right policy here is to stop this horrible law before it steps in and makes life worse for nearly all Americans, for the vast majority of Americans.  If we undertake the right policy, which is to stop Obamacare by any means possible, then we will benefit as a party, because that’s what the American people elected us to do.

By the same token, if we don’t do that, we’re in huge trouble as a party because we were put into power in the House of Representatives after the 2010 election because of Obamacare.  We were put into power to stop Obamacare.

RUSH:  Exactly!  The 2010 midterms, and Obama is out campaigning today trying to sell Obamacare, which is already the law of the land.  Why is he doing that?  Because he doesn’t want a repeat in 2014 of what happened in 2010.  They want to win the House.  And there’s no push-back, Senator, other than you. Can you give me some other names that have joined you in this?

Who is supporting Lee? (Jim Inhofe’s name is not mentioned, but he is a part of the movement)

LEE:  …the Senate… Marco Rubio, …Ted Cruz, …Rand Paul, John Thune, Mike Enzi…Chuck Grassley… Mike Crapo…Mike Enzi…Jeff Chiesa… We’ve got a total of 13.  We’ve got about 70 in the House that have signed a similar pledge.  And we’re building these numbers every day. We’re building because as people become aware of this effort they will get there. I was just told by my staff that within the last day or so the House of Representatives has risen to the level of about a hundred. There are a hundred members of the House of Representatives that have now joined with us, and these numbers are building every single day because the American people are speaking out.

For conservative Oklahomans, it’s important to know Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4th) is joined at the hip with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and does not support defunding ObamaCare.

What about a government shutdown?

RUSH:  …Senator, another argument that is made is the dreaded government shutdown argument, that you can’t get where you want to go in the continuing resolution fight without a government shutdown.  And then they say, “Look what happened in ’95.  We got killed.  ’95 ruined us.”

In reality we only got killed in the media.  We picked up two Senate seats after the ’95 shutdown. And the House, I don’t think there was great damage. Plus, that budget fight arguably could be said to have set the table for great policy that followed, such as welfare reform that Clinton signed, because it involved people taking a stand.  But it’s looked at as a debacle because of the impact it supposedly had on Newt, but it really wasn’t.  You’re fighting a tremendous obstacle there with this fear if there’s a government shutdown, that the Republicans are finished.  So what do you say to people who have that obstacle in front of them?

LEE:  …I want to be very clear that what I’m calling for is not a shutdown.  I don’t want a shutdown. I don’t think we need a shutdown. We ought to be able to fund the government responsibly without a shutdown…we ought to fund government, just not Obamacare.  We shouldn’t have to vote for all of it, including Obamacare, or have none of it.  That’s crazy.

Secondly, if we signal in advance that no matter what we’re going to fund Obamacare, that’s the best way to make that happen. And so that’s not the signal we should be sending.

Finally, if we get enough people…in the house and…Senate who have expressed concerns about Obamacare and are willing to say “I’m going to vote to fund government, but not Obamacare” you then put Harry Reid in the position, the untenable position of having to say because we didn’t get everything we wanted, even though you funded every other program in government, even the programs Republicans hate, we’re gonna shut down the government in the Democratic Party because you didn’t include funding for Obamacare.  That’s a terrible position for him to be in. I don’t think he wants to fight that fight, and, frankly, I don’t think he can win that fight.

Are Democrats worried?

RUSH:  …is there some legitimate worry on the Democrat side that you could pull this off?

LEE:  Deep down yes, I think there is, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re more than happy to have fellow Republicans be at the tip of the spear and the attack against this effort.

…I am fully aware of the fact that the Washington establishment is not happy with me about this effort….Meanwhile, the Democrats are thrilled that we’ve got Republicans doing their bidding on this, fighting against this effort, and you’ve got Republicans essentially saying “Yeah, no matter what, we’re gonna fund Obamacare.”  That’s a problem.

RUSH:  Well, that’s it.

Okay… I guess the take-away is the people who were saying that the spending is mandatory and cannot be removed, that’s not correct?

LEE:  It’s not true.  As much as they might wish that were the case, it is not.


Siding with Coburn:

1. Seven-term Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said he feared Republicans would look “feckless” in pushing a doomed legislative strategy that some Democrats simply describe as “hostage-taking.”

2. [Lindsey] Graham, another senior Republican voice, said the strategy by the Tea Party – a loose political movement that seeks lower taxes and a smaller federal government – was “a bridge too far.”

3. “Oh, I think it’s a silly effort,” Republican Senator Bob Corker told MSNBC on Tuesday. “What people are really saying who are behind that effort is we don’t have the courage to roll up our sleeves and deal with real deficit and spending decisions.” [no joke – it hasn’t happened in 4-1/2 years]

4. Senator John McCain, calling the Obamacare defunding effort a “non-starter,” said on Tuesday that the senators behind it were not around for past government shutdown battles. Source: Reuters

As a member of that “loose political movement,” the Tea Party, there is no compromise with the other side in either party. There is no way to consider the Rubio, McCain, Graham and Flake immigration bill as a sovereign fix. Had Rubio stuck to his promise to secure the border first, we would have been on our way to a fix, but instead they gave away our sovereignty. We were not asked to compromise. We were told how it would be.

Health Care: We could have put in place the ability to purchase health care across state lines and it we would have had a good first fix, but the plan is single-payer and ObamaCare is the way to get it. As I said above, not one single Republican voted for ObamaCare. There is no one to trust – a huge difference from the Gingrich shutdown. 

These are not the ‘good old days’ when everyone just got along, went for cocktails, returned to the Hill and worked together to write legislation everyone could live by.  We’re dealing with full out Marxism.

If we give in, we give in to everything the Constitution warns us about, that hasn’t already been given in to. The compromise is too terrible. Doing the right thing is always doing the right thing. We sent some there to do it, now I hope they do.


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