Published on TheHill.com on January 4, 2011
The pas-de-deux between the Republican House and the Democratic president and Senate can get old pretty quickly. The Republican House passes repeal of ObamaCare. The Senate either kills it or Obama vetoes it. The Republican House passes spending cuts. The Senate … you get the drift.
The only way to break the deadlock and proceed with the urgent task of rolling back the Obama agenda is to use three key confrontations:
1. The debt limit extension
2. The demands of states for more bailouts
3. The 2012 budget
The need to repeal his radical agenda is ever more apparent as it unfolds further. The legislative enactments were bad enough. But now Obama is using his executive authority to implement anything he couldn’t get through even his Democrat-dominated Congress.
By administrative order, the Environmental Protection Agency is about to impose a carbon tax more draconian than the aborted cap-and-trade legislation. The National Labor Relations Board is reversing the Dana decision, which requires secret ballots in union elections. Having failed to pass card-check legislation, the board will impose it by a party-line 3-2 vote. And now the Department of Health and Human Services is about to reimburse end-of-life advice from physicians even though this was specifically deleted from the healthcare bill in order to assure its passage. Finally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is about to impose regulations on talk radio requiring locally produced programs, shortening the license period to four years (from eight) and reining in conservative programming. It is also using the rubric of net neutrality to regulate the Internet.
These administrative rulings are Obama II and will be as far-reaching as Obama I, but will not enjoy the sanction of legislative approval.
And there is plenty from Obama I that needs changing. ObamaCare must be repealed, or its funding and implementation blocked. We must move ahead with cuts in domestic discretionary spending and block-grant Medicaid to bring down the budget deficit to about 3 percent of GDP.
So how do we roll all this back?
We need to use the tools at hand. The three bills Obama must pass are our leverage. The Republican House needs to demand rollbacks in his legislative agenda and curbs on his executive actions as the price for permitting the government to operate.
It will not be time for the faint-hearted. The conservatives seeking to block arbitrary expropriation of vast segments of our private sector will be accused of irresponsibility and worse. But every one of the elements of the confrontation agenda has one thing in common: The public agrees with the Republicans. On ObamaCare, Medicare cuts, enforcement of the individual mandate, healthcare rationing, administrative imposition of carbon taxes, FCC controls over talk radio, card-check and spending cuts rather than tax increases, Americans side with the GOP position against the Democratic/Obama agenda. Americans will support the Congress in the coming confrontations.
But if Republicans stray over the line of public opinion themselves by cutting Medicare or Social Security, they will lose. Americans oppose Medicare cuts. Check out HillaryCare in 1994, Gingrich’s budget cuts in 1996 and ObamaCare in 2010 to see how strongly they feel about it. And they oppose changes in Social Security — see the defeat of the Bush agenda of 2005 for reference.
These two fundamental changes must wait until after 2012. If we attempt them now, it will defeat our efforts to roll back Obama’s socialism.
And these cuts are not needed to bring the deficit to 3 percent of GDP over the next three years. Block-granting Medicaid at 2008 levels (imposing a 3 percent retroactive annual allowable increase), freezing domestic discretionary spending at 2008 levels and projecting a cut to 60,000 troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan by 2015 will get you there without any self-inflicted political wounds.
But the central mandate for the Republicans in the House is to fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. Hold firm. Don’t blink. Don’t give in. This our best chance to save our political and economic system.