Tonight, during an appearance on CNN, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) urged House Republicans not to fund the Affordable Care Act and predicted “a very intense showdown” should Obama “fight us on it”:
DEMINT: We don’t have to defund it, we just don’t have to pass the funding for it. The majority in the House can control the appropriation bills and we can just not include in those appropriation bills the funding for the implementation of ObamaCare. The president may fight us on it and it could be a very intense show down. But Republicans are in a position now to make sure no funding goes forward for Obamacare.
Prominent Republicans including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Newt Gingrich have all suggested that the GOP could effectively repeal the health care reform law by defunding it. But that may be easier said than done. As former Senator Tom Daschle explained in a recent interview, “a lot of what we did in health care reform has more of an entitlement than a discretionary funding base. So as an entitlement, they would really have to change the law rather than simply not fund in order for it to be effected. The entitlement sections of the legislation are going to be fairly immune from defunding.” The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that there is “at least $50 billion in specified and estimated authorizations of discretionary spending that might be involved in implementing that legislation” and presumably that’s the spending Republicans can more easily de-fund.
Gail Wilensky, administrator of CMS under George H. W. Bush, put it this way at a recent health event: “So you could technically see [defunding] as a way to go after all those thing that are not mandatory funding. But a lot of the activity in this early period is, I think not at risk.”