A two-thirds majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say stopgap funding for the federal government should not be tied to cutting off money for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Unless Congress and President Barack Obama reach agreement on stopgap legislation by midnight on Sept. 30, much of the federal government could shut down next week.
Last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a stopgap bill that would fund the government—but only if money for the Affordable Care Act is cut off. At the start of this week, Capitol Hill observers said there was almost no chance the Democratic-controlled Senate would approve the legislation, and if it did, Obama has said he would veto it.
Among Democrats participating in the Snap Poll, 91 percent oppose tying stopgap funding for the federal government to cutting off money for the Affordable Care Act. By contrast, 57 percent of Republicans favor the measure.
New York’s insurance marketplace under the ACA, called the New York Health Benefit Exchange, is slated to open Oct. 1. Shutting down the government will not prevent the exchanges from opening.
Federal government shutdowns have occurred before. The most recent one lasted three weeks in December 1995 and early January 1996.
Obama also has said he will not negotiate with GOP congressional leaders on raising the federal debt limit. Republicans want to tie an increase to a range of actions including tax-code revisions and delayed implementation of the health care law. Obama maintains the U.S. Constitution obligates Congress to pay the nation’s bills.
A majority of readers—56 percent—say a federal debt-limit increase should be subject to negotiations between congressional leaders and Obama. The majority of Democrats say the increase should not be subject to negotiations, and nearly three-quarters of Republicans say it should.
Roughly 780 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Sept. 23 and 24.
Should stopgap funding for the federal government be tied to cutting off money for the Affordable Care Act?
Should a federal debt-limit increase be subject to negotiations between congressional leaders and President Obama?
What is your political affiliation?
Political debates should be held at the time spending is being authorized, not at the time previously approved spending is coming up for payment.
—Bruce Newman, CPA
The Republican Party has kidnapped the management of the debt ceiling, which historically had been a non-event, and is using it to hold the American people up for ransom. The Affordable Care Act has made it through all three branches of our government. Time to grow up, accept reality and do their jobs.
—C. Lewis, Fairport
Congress needs to produce a bipartisan budget, which will only occur through negotiating with the other party. They have already authorized this debt; now they want to tie themselves in knots about it. Stop pushing the country to the financial cliff in an attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act. As someone who has a 23-year-old child and a sister-in-law who is an ovarian cancer survivor and is one who believes efficient and affordable health care for all our citizens is a worthy goal, I’m sickened that our economic recovery is being held hostage by the same individuals who produced this debt. It’s time they act like adults, stop playing these macho, pandering games, show some civility and do the people’s business of producing a budget plan and tax policy, which will give the business community the certainty it requires to maximize economic growth.
—Michael L. Harf
Shutting down the government in 1995 cost Newt Gingrich his job, re-elected Bill Clinton and cost the Republicans the election of 1996. All government shutdowns are blamed on the Republicans. Let Obamacare collapse under its own weight. Don’t take the Republican Party down with it.
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services P.C.
The media seems to have stopped talking about the federal deficit, but it’s still there, looming like an anvil ready to drop on our collective heads. You simply cannot keep spending trillions you do not have, printing money like the spree will last forever with no consequences. Nations and empires have fallen from overspending and debt. We are not “exceptional” when it comes to having to someday pay our bills.
Defunding the Affordable Care Act sets a dangerous precedent. There’s a legal process for repealing a law—and this isn’t it.
—Rick Staropoli, Granville House Media
My party affiliation is only for primary voting purposes. I am so sick of both the parties. However, having an entire budget held up for one budget item is not how you run a country. There would be no budget approval because each congressional special interest would hold up the country based on their desires—like the Republicans are doing to the country now. Can you imagine a household not paying their mortgage or taxes because the family members are arguing about where/what else needs household financial attention?
How does it make any sense to pass a stopgap budget with a deficit requiring funding, and then debate whether or not to fund the deficit just passed, through a debt ceiling increase? How does it make any sense to pass a budget and then debate the change in that budget needed due to the deficit, before passing a debt ceiling increase needed to fund the deficit just enacted?
—Jim Haefner, Pittsford
The Republican House should stop wasting time and energy holding continuous votes to kill Obamacare. The United States should have affordable health care for its citizens, and this is the first attempt at it. It may not be perfect, but give it a chance and tweak it if need be. The House should work out its differences among the members and pass a budget bill that the Senate can live with. Compromise is not an evil thing to do. It’s part of what allows a democracy to survive. Without it you have a dictatorship. As for the debt limit, Congress should have thought of that before they passed their spending bills. It’s a debt that is owed and must be paid. Our economy cannot afford the uncertainty that this Congress is inflicting upon it.
It’s not the Affordable Care Act or ACA; it’s Obamacare, and it’s garbage. ACA is only used because it’s a disaster that Obama eventually will not want to be associated with. Only the left-wing media wants this to be a huge success. Remember Nancy Pelosi’s famous words: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”? Now that we know what’s in it, get your wallets out, folks, and dig deeper!
Somebody should tell these guys that one day, once too often, they will threaten to shut down the government and not pay past bills—and someone is going to believe them.
These same guys want to repeal Medicare and Social Security.
If only congressional Republicans could spend their time—on my dime, mind you—on worthwhile activities instead of continuing to fight Obamacare, they might have a chance of gaining some credibility. But alas, they aren’t called the “Party of No” for nothing.
—Al Carey, Carestream Health
If Congress feels the Affordable Care Act needs to be adjusted/tweaked/amended, they should work to that end. The current health reform options presented by the Republicans are weak and do not address the problems with our health care system. It’s more of the status quo way of thinking. The stopgap funding issue is one of the most important problems facing the United States. These two important issues need to be address separately.
How many people opposed to Obamacare have children older than age 26 who are unable to get medical insurance due to pre-existing conditions? Please step up and show me a good alternative plan. Shame on Republicans! Do something positive for America.
As a business owner, it is more disruptive to have the financial markets destabilized by legislative hostage-taking than it is to provide health insurance to my staff.
—James Traylor, Financial Architects
Despite what much of the media claims, funding or not funding a government program is the role of Congress. If they are representing their constituents, which apparently they are, they are obligated to follow their wishes. The government has been “shut down,” as some like to refer to it, many times over the last 30 years and the world hasn’t come to an end. The president should negotiate with Congress, not threaten to veto a bill that is passed by the representatives of the American voter. Ultimately, if this is not the wish of the people, they will not be re-elected.
—Todd Baker, Henrietta
The Obama administration has granted waivers and extensions and done other things with the so-called Affordable Care Act because they know it is neither affordable nor workable. It has taken all this time since its passage for the vast majority to finally realize they don’t want it! The House of Representatives gets that and is trying to kill it any way they can. Kudos to them! The same goes for the proposed 10 percent cut in the food stamp program. Remember, the president has told us the recession is over. So food stamp usage should be declining anyway. And who would even argue that there is not at least 10 percent fraudulent use of food stamps going on today? Ask any food store cashier you know. I have, and it’s probably more like 50 percent!
—George Thomas, Ogden
Obamacare must be stopped using whatever means necessary. If that includes “shutting down” the government, so be it! Even at this point in its implementation, I have seen my out-of-pocket expenses double. Many working Americans are experiencing the same thing. Sen. Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell must get on board with what the people are saying—we don't want Obamacare! It costs too much! We must not just de-fund Obamacare; we must repeal the law and get rid of this abomination. If government wants to make medical care less expensive, then we must work to let the market determine what the costs should be. Start at the state level and allow consumers to buy less expensive insurance plans they want by opening up the market so consumers may shop outside of their state. Control medical liability costs through meaningful tort reform. As we have seen with Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, whenever the government runs a program costs soar and those costs are passed on to the productive members of society who see their take-home pay shrinking while other costs, including their personal health care costs, rise. This as the result of an out-of-control government. Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, eliminate Obamacare through whatever means necessary. The people have spoken and it seems only Congress is listening.
—Michael F. Kloppel, chairman, Ontario County Conservative Party, Canandaigua
We are heading for a collapsed dollar unless our government spending is controlled!
Regarding ACA and federal funding for government operations, this is simply a hostage situation and should be so treated. Regardless of your opinion about ACA, it is the law. Changing the law requires action by Congress and the president, not hostage-taking and grandstanding. Regarding the debt limit, this is also simple. The nation’s debt is money owed for goods and services. It is not a budget for future expenditures/savings. Try telling Visa or MasterCard that you and your spouse don't agree on making payments. Good luck.
—Wayne Donner, Rush
Nancy Pelosi stated in 2009 that Congress needs to pass Obamacare in order to find out what's in it. Now that it has been read and we find that it's a pathetic piece of legislation, it's time to stop it in its tracks before it's too late. Obama and his cronies call the Republicans extremists for their fiscally sound position. Yet, the real radical extremists are Obama, Pelosi, Harry Reed, Sen. Charles Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Louise Slaughter, Daniel Maffei, etc. for violating the financial solvency of the United States. Obamacare is another loser in many ways, including increasing our deficit, according to government sources, by approximately $1.2 trillion over 10 years—and that's probably a low-ball estimate. President Obama and his cronies are the real radical extremists who are bankrupting our country.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates Inc.
Really, again! They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. I'm embarrassed to say that I'm an American while the rest of the world looks on watching House Republicans wasting time and money on a matter that's already been settled 41 times! To me, it's the equivalent of watching Rome burn while the House leadership plays the fiddle. This intransigent ideology is crippling our country. On top of all the games, the Affordable Health Care Act is, on the whole, a good thing for the American people. Yes, it costs money, but not dealing with uncovered accidents or illness costs more. Republicans, move on. Address the vast array of serious issues we face: energy, environment, unemployment, the shrinking middle class, immigration, terrorism, trade imbalance, banking reform, ethics reform and campaign finance reform. Oh, I get it now: If Republicans march lock step on health care, they won't have time to consider the issues that really matter! Boehner, you are an evil genius!
—Frank Orienter, Rochester
The defunding of the ACA is both absurd and embarrassing. This is a law that is on the books of the United States, was passed in both houses of our Congress and signed by the president. Now a maverick a group, whose main purpose, according to Mitch McConnell, is to embarrass the president, would like to set a new governmental precedent by letting the minority rule and stop an existing piece of legislation. It's a sad depth to which they're attempting to sink our democratic process.
—Alan Ziegler, Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation
Yet another opportunity to reign in runaway government spending has arrived. Will those in charge get real and act responsibly? If not, will we be responsible enough to replace the spenders in 2014?
—Tom Shea, Thomas P. Shea Agency Inc.
I am sick and tired of the “I have mine, so to hell with you” mentality of the ACA detractors. I scoff when I see these people calling themselves Christians. If the Republican Party over the last several years had offered up any ideas about how to provide health insurance for those in need, to control health care costs or to improve health care outcomes, I might even try to listen now. But they have offered nothing. All we hear from them is no, no and no. The old status quo in American health care is unacceptable and unsustainable. Health care costs have been spiraling out of control, deflating real middle class family income. Preliminary data coming in about the health care exchanges is positive. More and more Republican governors and industry executives are coming on board. Young adults are able to be covered under their parents’ insurance until age 26, no denial of benefits for pre-existing conditions, reasonable caps on annual deductibles, and the growth rate for health care costs has slowed to its lowest level in decades—the Affordable Care Act is a done deal that will only improve with time. If those who support smaller government really want to do something constructive, have them stop their whining about the ACA, tax-code revisions and delayed implementation of the health care law. Instead, have them restore essential nutrition services to the poor, cut farm subsidies to wealthy farmers and end other forms of corporate welfare that are proven not to create jobs, but to create annual bonuses for the 1 percent. Oh, and what about the special exemption for Congress and its staffers from the ACA. No Republicans voted for the ACA. Yet it appears that many of them support the exemption President Obama approved on his own—so they would not have to go on record with a vote for or against it. Cowards and hypocrites, I say.
—Greg Reynolds, East Rochester
9/27/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email email@example.com.