Last week, voters nationwide delivered a stinging rebuke of President Obama’s big-government vision for the country. A primary reason for the “shellacking,” as the president termed the Democrats’ defeat, was Americans’ disgust with the new health reform law.
Indeed, a Rasmussen poll released on Election Day found that 58 percent of likely voters support the repeal of Obamacare. And a Wall Street Journal poll reported that 84 percent of voters said Obamacare affected their vote.
With Democrats now in the minority in the House of Representatives, the stage is set for Americans to get their wish: repeal and replace.
Of the 60 House seats that have officially switched to the GOP — some races are still too close to call — 12 formerly belonged to Democrats who said “aye” to Obamacare.
In the Senate, Obama’s old Illinois seat is now occupied by former Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, who furiously spoke out against the health care bill when he was a member of the House. Five other Senate spots turned red, including the one now occupied by Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who forcefully defended his vote for Obamacare in the run-up to his defeat.
Anxiety over health care caused a substantial proportion of the Democratic base to break rank. One survey found that among Democrats who favored repeal, over a third voted Republican on Tuesday. And among pro-repeal Independents, fully 86 percent voted Republican.
Americans expressed their outrage over Obamacare in other ways, too. Voters in both Arizona and Oklahoma approved amendments to their state constitutions aimed at outlawing the mandated purchase of health insurance. A similar ballot initiative passed in Missouri earlier this year with 71 percent support.
With the Republicans taking 11 governorships, it is likely that a number of states will also file suits against the Department of Justice adding to those already filed in Virginia and the 20 state attorneys-general & the National Federation of Independent Business suit in Florida.
Clearly, the voters have spoken — they want Congress to scale back Obamacare. The question now is where to begin.
Lawmakers should start by repealing the law’s requirement that all businesses submit 1099 tax forms to the IRS for each vendor with whom they do more than $600 in annual business.
The $600 limit is laughably low. Many firms spend more than that on coffee every year.
The provision is expected to saddle 40 million businesses — and specifically small businesses, the engine of growth in this country — with huge new compliance costs. Money that could have gone towards creating jobs will instead be wasted on filing reams of new paperwork.
Even the president recognizes that repeal of the 1099 requirement is a no-brainer. Indeed, during Wednesday’s post-mortem press conference, Obama said the provision “appears to be too burdensome for small businesses.” The CLASS Act, the cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage program, and the 2.3 percent tax on medical device companies are also ripe for repeal.
Repealing other aspects of health reform will be tougher, as they have to make it through the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats. And the president will surely strike them down even if they make it to his desk. So lawmakers should use their power of the purse to choke off Obamacare’s funding.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Congress will have to allocate $115 billion over the next decade to finance the many programs created or expanded by the law. Lawmakers can simply refuse to pay for the establishment of the Independent Payment Advisory Board and the nearly 160 new boards, commissions, and agencies established by Obamacare. They can also block funding for the 16,000 new IRS agents needed to enforce the law.
All of these steps are but temporary fixes until 2012, when voters will have the chance to relieve Obama of his veto pen and press for the total repeal of the health reform law in 2013. A new Congress — and new president — could then work to implement consumer-oriented reforms that will actually fix what plagues the world’s finest healthcare system.
Voters expressed their thoughts on the administration’s vision for health reform in living color this week. The new Congress must heed their wishes and begin dismantling Obamacare right away.