Kentucky voices

Barr: Obama willing to shut down government over bad health law

September 20, 2013 

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington represents Kentucky's 6th District.

My top priorities in Congress have always been getting Kentuckians back to work and averting a national debt crisis. Unfortunately, the president's signature policy achievement, Obamacare, stands firmly in the way of both of these goals.

Obamacare is already showing signs of inevitable failure and it continues to grow less popular with each passing day. Hardly a help to the economy, Obamacare is weakening the labor market.

Millions of Americans are losing their job-based health insurance, individual and small group health insurance premiums are skyrocketing and employers are being forced to reduce hours for workers and even lay off employees.

Obamacare will worsen the country's fiscal condition. The law is projected to cost taxpayers $48 billion in 2014 and nearly $2 trillion over the next decade. Even President Barack Obama's own administration has admitted that the law is unworkable by choosing to delay some of its key features.

In the coming weeks, Congress will consider how to fund the government beyond Sept. 30, which is the end of the fiscal year. And given the very real concern that implementation of Obamacare will be a train wreck, and given that the administration has already issued special-favor waivers and delays in order to prevent the law from completely collapsing, implementing Obamacare should be given a very low priority.

Therefore, I support legislation to fund the government beyond the end of the fiscal year but which delays implementation of Obamacare for at least one year. The only way the government would shut down under this scenario would be if Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and their liberal allies continue with their my-way-or-the-highway approach of conditioning funding the rest of the government on rushing the implementation of an unpopular law that will increase health care costs, destroy jobs and drive long-term deficits.

Since Obama took office, our national debt has soared to nearly $17 trillion. Rather than threatening to shut down our government by insisting on rushing implementation of Obamacare, Obama, Pelosi and their allies should work with House Republicans to make reasonable spending cuts and enact real health care reform that will actually lower the cost of health care without growing the deficit.

Obama continues to give speech after speech mocking our efforts to repeal Obamacare. But even he has acknowledged the deficiencies of the law, having signed into law seven bills that dismantle certain portions of the law, lessening some its most harmful effects and saving at least $62 billion in taxpayer dollars.

Furthermore, when the Obama administration announced its intention to unilaterally delay the employer mandate for one year, the House passed legislation to make that official.

However, because it is not fair to give businesses and labor unions relief from Obamacare's job-crushing provisions without giving individuals and families the same accommodation, the House also passed legislation that would delay the individual mandate as well.

Instead of embracing this delay, the president is prepared to shut down the government to force on the American people this unworkable law.

I certainly look forward to the day that we can replace Obamacare with patient-centered reforms that lower costs without growing government.

Until then, I will continue my efforts to delay, defund and repeal this flawed law.

I look forward to continuing to work with the president and other members of Congress on a solution that will prevent a government shutdown but also limit Obamacare's harmful impact on families, jobs and Kentuckians' ability to receive affordable quality health care services.

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington represents Kentucky's 6th District.

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