My view: A shutdown would protect liberty

By Brandon Beckham

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Constitutional government is deteriorating. Americans are regularly alerted to government policies and activities that circumvent basic rights and liberties (e.g., NSA spying, IRS scandal, FBI reporters). At the crux of it all is Obamacare.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

Enlarge photo»

In 2010, a sharply divided Congress narrowly passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as "Obamacare." The new law is not only unpopular but remains a violation of constitutional rights.

The House has voted 40 times to repeal; the latest vote coming before the summer recess. All such votes died with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., running the Senate.

Legal minds predicted the Supreme Court would strike down Obamacare based on the individual mandate. Surprisingly, in 2012, Bush-appointed Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority decision that ruled the law constitutional because of Congress' power to tax indefinitely (see 16th Amendment). The ruling was manipulated and wrong. The Supreme Court failed to protect citizens from bad legislation.

Constitutional government is deteriorating. Americans are regularly alerted to government policies and activities that circumvent basic rights and liberties (e.g., NSA spying, IRS scandal, FBI reporters). At the crux of it all is Obamacare. It's the Trojan horse that will push the country toward socialism and economic collapse. Obama calls it "fundamentally transforming" America. Regardless of political affiliation, statesmen who honor their oath should engage in bold action to thwart any legislation that undermines liberty.

Though many Americans have lost confidence in their elected officials, there still remain some good leaders who are making a difference (e.g., Sen. Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster to prevent drone attacks on U.S. citizens). We must support them. Congress is not out of options to stop Obamacare. It holds a strong weapon: power of the purse. Another budget fight is looming this fall where a funding bill must be enacted before Oct. 1 to avoid government shutdown. Here lies an opportunity.

The plan is to draft legislation that funds everything except Obamacare. If it passes the Republican-controlled House — the Senate would be forced to either avoid the shutdown or protect the president's cornerstone legislation.

Such a strategy isn't easily executed. It will take strong, persuasive leadership and committed congressional representatives. It will be controversial and politically risky. But it is the right thing to do for the entire country if we are serious about our freedom.

Spearheading the effort is Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah. He's building a congressional coalition pledging not to vote for any budget that gives a penny to Obamacare. In a recent USA Today story Sen. Lee said: "The House can add language to the next spending bill, known in Washington as a 'continuing resolution,' that says Congress will fund all the functions of government — the military, veterans benefits, Social Security, entitlement programs, etc. — except Obamacare."

Using government shutdown as a political tool worries critics. The worry is political hype meant to scare people. The truth is during a shutdown, non-essential government activities are temporarily paused. This means closure of national parks, museums, passport and visa applications put on hold, freeze on hiring, furloughed employees, etc. Vital government functions continue uninterrupted including national security, foreign affairs, military, law enforcement, veterans care and others. Contrary to Obama's past statements, Social Security, Medicare and Veterans Benefits payments also continue.

America is already feeling the negative effects of Obamacare and it hasn't even been fully implemented. Part-time jobs have skyrocketed to their highest level as businesses are forced to hire less full-time employees to sidestep the employer mandate. Insurance companies are dropping coverage plans the law calls for.

A recent national poll showed two-thirds of voters oppose funding the law. With public sentiment in their favor, representatives and senators who disfavor Obamacare must utilize this opportunity to defund it and support Sen. Lee. There's no sense funding something you diametrically oppose. Once fully implemented, Obamacare will never go away, but our liberty will.

Brandon Beckham is a member of Republican State Central Committee and a precinct chairman from Orem.

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