If the government shutdown has proved anything, it is that Americans are largely ignorant of the basic functions of how government is supposed to work.
This manifests itself in the two arguments I most hear from leftists. First is that President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012 so Congress should go along with whatever he wants because his election was really a mandate on Obamacare — which bears the fantasy-steeped and comical title “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The second is that Obamacare is the law so Congress should not mess with its funding.
Both these arguments are plain silly. If one were honest with oneself, that would be patently obvious.
The first argument ignores the fact that the members of Congress were also elected and their political positions are just as valid as Obama’s. Perhaps more so given that Obama is the only president to win a second term with reduced percentages of both the popular and electoral votes.
The second argument is also as equally silly.
The Framers gave Congress the power over the purse. It is the duty of the U.S. Congress to determine the spending priorities of the nation. The Congress has the task of determining how government assets are spent.
First, there is the Appropriations clause (Article 1, Section 9): “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”
The Appropriations Clause is the cornerstone of Congress’s “power of the purse.” It assigns to Congress the role of final arbiter of the use of public funds. This was meant to give Congress the tools to limit the spending of the federal government.
This works in tandem with the Origination Clause (Article 1, Section 7): “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”
The Framers expected that the Origination Clause would ensure that “power over the purse” would lie with the House, the legislative body closer to the people.
In the case of Obamacare, the bill passed into law was not completely self-funding and would require annual appropriations by Congress.
Congress has complete discretion when it comes to funding the programs and laws it creates. It does so all the time. In fact, it is the duty of Congress to do so.
And Congress has good reason to either defund or at least delay the implementation of Obamacare. Only about 40 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the health care law.
Additionally, and more importantly, its cost is tremendous. Obama claimed it would only cost $900 billion over 10 years. However, the Congressional Budget Office says it will cost at least double that amount.
That is the heart of the problem, really. The government’s spending is out of control. Even if the Congress and the president reach a deal on Obamacare, there is still the debt ceiling debate coming up this week.
Seventy-six percent of Americans agree that the federal government spends too much money and 70 percent are against raising the debt ceiling. Obama and his Democratic minions, including the national media, like to call failure to raise the debt limit a “default.”
That is another administration lie meant to obfuscate reality. The debt ceiling merely limits how much money the government can borrow. It has nothing to do with the government defaulting on its bills. If the government can’t borrow more money, it must simply stop spending.
It is called prioritizing. Again, this is an appropriate legislative function of the Congress.
Raising the debt ceiling without a promise from the Democrats and the president of reasonable spending cuts would be irresponsible.
On the debt ceiling I would tend to agree with Sen. Obama, who said in 2006: “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. … I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
That of course was before he became a partisan hack who refers to the opposition party as terrorists. How presidential is that?