Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is frustrated with Republican colleagues who are not more outraged about the alleged “bombshell” of $105 billion in mandatory spending included in the health care law. “This is something that wasn’t known,” Bachmann said on Meet The Press on Sunday. “This money was broken up, hidden in various parts of the bill.” This afternoon, during an appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Bachmann expressed disappointment that Republicans in Congress were failing to heed her alarm:
BACHMANN: I have to say I feel disheartened in that I’m not sensing a lot of outrage about this by other members or…hopefully they just don’t yet know or they just don’t yet realize because the marvelous opportunity we have is within the next week and a half we can get this funding back for Obamacare and effectively repeal it for the next two years if we get this money back, but we got to demand that we put the language in, that we’ve already written, on the next continuing resolution….we can do this, but I’m not sensing yet within the Republicans here in Congress a willingness to do that. It’s inexplicable to me…It’s like we’re in the Twilight zone here. I’m thinking, am I the only one who remembers there was no discussion of this $105 billion?
Republicans may be less than surprised about Bachmann’s ‘revelations’ because the mandatory spending was, in fact, openly discussed in the various Congressional Budget Office estimates of health care reform and by Democrats hoping to protect the law from defunding. For instance, this CBO estimate from December 19, 2009 addressed the effects of “mandatory appropriations” for the Prevention and Public Health Fund,” “community health centers” and “the National Health Service Corps.” In an earlier document from November 2009, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf writes, “For example, the House bill would finance the operations of the insurance exchanges through mandatory appropriations rather than a surcharge on the plans offered in the exchanges. ” (The word “mandatory” is used throughout this CBO compilation of health care related documents).
As Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) explained to Hannity after Bachmann’s appearance, “with the advanced appropriations they built in there, it exists outside the normal appropriations process, but tell me something I don’t know.” “I don’t think nobody noticed it, I thought most of the estimates we were working off of were….all of our estimates were over the next 10 years,” he added.
In February, Republicans on the House Rules Committee refused to grant a waiver, requested by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), “for the consideration of an amendment to the 2011 funding bill that would bar mandatory spending” for the health law. House rules stipulate that “members cannot legislate on appropriations bills,” which King’s amendment would have done by eliminating $105 billion in mandatory spending from the health law. Republicans on the committee argued that the party would be better served by focusing on the $100 billion in cuts offered in the GOP’s continuing resolution proposal and suggested that King’s amendment would be dead on arrival in the Senate and would therefore jeopardize the party’s cherished spending cuts.