GUEST COMMENTARY: Don't shut down government over Obamacare

2013-09-03T00:00:00Z 2013-12-22T18:19:09Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Don't shut down government over ObamacareBy Dan Coats nwitimes.com
September 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I have voted more than two dozen times to repeal, defund and strip provisions from Obamacare. It is a principle I share with all Republicans, and I will continue to support these efforts. I want the result to be victory, which is why I have concerns with a push by some to shut down the government.

Here’s the hard truth: President Barack Obama will not overturn his signature legislation so long as he is president and the Democrats have control of the Senate.

Along with these political realities, refusing to pass legislation to keep the government funded will not stop Obamacare from going into effect. The majority of the law is considered “mandatory spending” and operates outside of the annual appropriations process. As a result, Obamacare would still be implemented under a government shutdown, and the taxes established to fund the law would still be collected.

Also, I am concerned about the impact a government shutdown would have on Indiana and our nation’s economy.

Active duty military would remain on the job, but would not be paid. Thousands of federal employees in Indiana would be furloughed, including the 3,000 civilian contractors at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane who provide critical support services to our troops.

There are more than 1.2 million Hoosiers receiving Social Security benefits. While these benefits would continue under a shutdown, many services like new benefit registration and beneficiary assistance would face delays. For Hoosiers who rely on these checks, this could be the difference in making a mortgage or paying bills on time.

Additionally, patients waiting for approvals on new drugs from companies like Eli Lilly in Indianapolis or medical devices from Zimmer in Warsaw could also be impacted since federal employees reviewing these functions would not be reporting to work.

I believe a full delay of the law is a better strategy. I am preparing legislation, similar to a House-passed bill offered by Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., which would delay Obamacare until 2015.

Delaying implementation until after the 2014 midterm elections would return the decision to the American voters. Some argue the 2012 election was a referendum, but the full scale of the law’s problems was not yet known. We now know Obamacare is driving up premiums, forcing businesses to cut workers’ jobs or hours and requiring some families to switch plans.

As individuals, families and businesses are learning more about these disastrous impacts, they deserve the chance to decide whether they want the Senate to continue under Harry Reid and the Democrats that passed Obamacare or if they want to elect leaders that will fully repeal it and replace it with more effective, consumer-driven solutions.

On the gridiron, it is usually the better call to kick a field goal and send a game into overtime than to try a last-second “Hail Mary” pass in hopes of a win. The contest over Obamacare can be won in overtime. Let’s allow the American people to decide the final score.

Dan Coats is a Republican U.S. senator from Indiana. The opinions are the writer's.

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