While Obamacare is rightly notorious as a fiscal nightmare, less well known is just how massively it transferred power from Congress to the executive branch. In fact, the full scope of Congress's abdication is still unknown. What is now known, however, is that deeply buried within Obamacare was a $105 billion slush fund that assures its implementation into the future, no matter what future voters think or want.
This makes then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's comment to the Legislative Conference for National Association of Counties about Obamacare, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," made a year ago tomorrow, ironically prescient. Just this past month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) updated an October 2010 report titled "Appropriations and Fund Transfers in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)." The new report found that, unbeknownst to almost every Member of Congress, Obamacare contains $105 billion in direct implementation spending that bypasses Congress's normal appropriations process.
A separate CRS report, titled New Entities Created Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, concludes: "The precise number of new entities that will ultimately be created pursuant to [Obamacare] is currently unknowable, for the number of entities created by some sections is contingent upon other factors, and some new entities may satisfy more than one requirement in the legislation." These new bureaucracies would have the power to reach into your life on a daily basis, including control over who is allowed to sell you health insurance and how they may do so, as well as what procedures Medicare will or will not pay for. Once Congress allows these new bureaucracies to be created, it will be next to impossible to get your health care freedom back.
But these merging entities do have a weak spot. CRS reports: "In practical terms, many of these entities will not be able to function until their members are appointed and funds are appropriated or made available for the entities to operate." That is where the secret $105 billion stash comes in. Instead of leaving these fledgling bureaucracies vulnerable to the budgetary decisions of future Congresses, Obamacare appropriated billions in implementation spending over a 10-year period. Heritage fellow Ernest Istook explains the impact:
Making years' worth of spending decisions in advance is an attempt to handcuff the current Congress and prevent it from determining current levels of spending. … The funds in Obamacare are not budget projections but actual appropriations of money. Obamacare goes far beyond any precedent for making appropriations for future years; it is an outrageous effort by the former Congress to bind the current and future Congresses in this way.
Conservatives can still save the nation from Obamacare's bureaucratic kudzu, but they must act proactively. They must go beyond simply not providing funds for the implementation of Obamacare. CRS explains: "Precedents require that the language be phrased in the negative, for example, that 'none of the funds provided in this paragraph (typically an account) shall be used for' a specified activity."
This is why our nation cannot afford to fund the federal government by continuing resolutions, which perpetuate the status quo—a status quo where Obamacare's implementation is already funded. In order to truly defund Obamacare, conservatives must go through all 2,700 pages of the bill and cut spending for every program one by one. That is the mandate this Congress was elected on. Members need to do their jobs.
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