In an exclusive interview late last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told Breitbart News why he believes the upcoming fight over funding for the Affordable Care Act is the GOP’s “last best shot” to rid the country of Obamacare.
“I see this as, quite arguably, our last best shot at stopping Obamacare,” Lee said in a phone interview. “I mean look, they rammed this thing through with a series of procedural techniques that will make your head spin if you analyze them, even just as you review them, in 2010. They did it without a single Republican vote. So, unlike every other major new program, new programs of this magnitude are usually adopted with bipartisan support, this was rammed through with one party’s loyal, unflinching, unquestioning support.”
Lee argued since “the individual mandate kicks in on January 1” and “the exchanges will start January 1, along with the exchange subsidies which is a big new entitlement program,” that “once it kicks in, it’s really difficult to get rid of.”
“It’s going to be really bad,” he predicted. “It’s also making health care costs a lot more expensive.”
Lee urged that both Senate and House conservatives band together and start making moves, but it would be best in his opinion if the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) by the end of September that funded all of government except for Obamacare.
“This needs to start on both sides of the Capitol,” Lee said. “Obviously because Republicans are in control in the House of Representatives, we need to rely heavily on the House. It doesn’t matter as much where it starts, although I think it would be best for the House of Representatives to pass a Continuing Resolution that funds everything else in government but Obamacare. We don’t want a government shutdown. What the left, and the left-leaning media establishment, and even some Republicans have been claiming is that this is a push for a shutdown. It is not that. We don’t want a shutdown. We don’t need a shutdown. This is a great way of avoiding a shutdown. What we’re saying is we’re willing to fund everything in government, even the programs we don’t like very much, we’re willing to fund all of that and to extend spending at current levels, we just don’t want to fund Obamacare. If we get enough members of the House and enough members of the Senate to say that, then we can make it happen. And the best way to make it happen would be for the House to pass something that funds everything else in government but Obamacare, then send that over to the Senate and say ‘okay, we’ve done our part. Now the Senate needs to do its part.'”
Lee argues such a process would force Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Barack Obama to be the ones to decide: shut the government down, or agree Obamacare should not be funded for implementation.
“I think it would be really unwise and really difficult for Harry Reid to try to pick a shutdown fight over this, to try to shut the government down simply because he is doggedly clinging to this very unpopular, increasingly unpopular, and justifiably unpopular, law,” Lee said.
Lee asserted the American people elected Republicans en masse in 2010, the first height of the Tea Party movement, to stand and fight against Obamacare. “That’s what the 2010 wave was all about,” he explained. “People were realizing we were getting way too far down this road, it’s going to be difficult to back out. It’s a road that narrows the more you follow it to its end. And it’s getting so narrow it’s difficult to turn around. This is one of our last stops, one of our last clear shots at turning it around and stopping it.”
“If we don’t fight this, we’ll become like the unarmed English Bobby who, upon seeing the commission of a crime, yells ‘stop, or I’ll yell stop again!'” Lee added. “We’ll become this sort of feckless political entity. It is as big of a deal as I’ve seen, certainly, in my two and a half years in the Senate. But I think this is one of the biggest political developments of the last decade. There has never been a more critical time for the grassroots to become active. The grassroots will make all the difference in the world. The grassroots can make or break this. I think they will make it.”
When asked if voting for a CR that funds Obamacare is equivalent to voting for Obamacare, Lee said: “That’s how I see it.”
“You are complicit in the legislative process of Obamacare if you vote to fund it,” Lee said. “The message is: fund government, not Obamacare. We want government to keep operating. We don’t want things to grind to a halt and there’s no need for that to happen. It is not only possible, but it is necessary for us to refuse to fund the ongoing implementation of Obamacare.”
Lee said it is the mandate of Republicans to actually do what they were sent to Congress in 2010 to do: stop Obamacare.
“There was a big tidal wave created by the passage of Obamacare that led to the Republican majority in the House and it gave us a much stronger position in the Senate,” Lee said. “We were elected with a clear charge to stop Obamacare. There was a lot of speculation around the 2010 election cycle that if either house of Congress fell into Republican control, that there would be an effort to defund Obamacare’s implementation. That didn’t end up happening and for the last two and a half years, Republicans have been governing on the other side of the capitol. We’ve continued to pass CR funding mechanisms, continuing resolutions, to keep government operating, and we have not defunded Obamacare.”
Lee said the reason why Republicans ended up in this position to begin with is because they first counted on the Supreme Court to take down Obamacare, then relied on the 2012 presidential election to produce a Republican winner who would eliminate the law. Neither of those checks against the system succeeded. While he disagreed with their decisions to keep funding Obamacare through the CRs over the past couple of years, Lee understands the GOP establishment’s logic but says now is the time to fight.
“There were reasons for this; I voted against those because I didn’t think we should be implementing Obamacare,” he said. “But they [the CRs] still passed with Republican support from both houses, continuing resolutions that fund Obamacare. There were reasons for that; there were people who were saying things like ‘we don’t need to do this now because the Supreme Court will take care of it,’ others were saying that the presidential election of 2012 would take care of it. But now we’re at the end of the rope. We’ve got one last stop on the Obamacare expressway and that last stop is with the continuing resolution. So at this point, we need to draw a line in the sand as Republicans and say we’re not going to fund this.”