Shutdown Solution: ObamaCare Exchanges Yes; Individual Mandate No

By Dick Morris on October 1, 2013

The House Republicans are not presenting their case well to the public.

They engage in Washington-speak and talk about the “individual mandate.”

But most people don’t get that under the Republican plan to end the shutdown, the ObamaCare exchanges will remain open and will invite all who wish to come in and sign up. It is only the requirement that they do so that the Republicans are seeking to delay for a year.

Rhetorically, the Republicans should say “we are open to letting all who want to sign up to do so. Let us offer universal coverage to all and let’s do what we can to make it affordable.

But we do not want to force people to sign up if they don’t want to. We want to wait a year before we impose that requirement. Just as we have delayed for a year the requirement that employers sign up their workers, we want to also delay the requirement that individuals sign up.”

Republicans need to stress that the only difference between their position and the presidents’ is that he wants to force Americans to sign up and the Republicans want to encourage them to do so, but not make them do it.

ObamaCare isn’t ready to require insurance anyway. The IRS does not have the teeth to enforce the requirement. The exchanges have to use the honor system to determine enrollee’s eligibility for subsidy and to figure out if they already have health insurance. A year’s delay will solve those problems.

But if the Republicans can’t get Obama to blink, they should not fight it out on this line. If they can get a deal to cancel the medical device tax — even if its replaced by something else — and to stop subsidies to members of Congress, it will be enough of a package to take home to their constituents if — and only if — they rally to fight over the debt limit and, this time, not to give in.

The fact is that Republicans moved too quickly to shutdown. They should have fallen back and fought over the debt limit where their chances of success will be much greater. But now that the government is shut and the Republicans have pulled the trigger, a quick solution will allow the party to fight again over the debt limit without carrying the burden of a defeat over the Continuing Resolution on their backs.

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