You may remember the scene in Animal House where Kevin Bacon plays a fraternity pledge being hazed. Down on all fours getting paddled, Bacon says, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
The political establishment is trying to haze fiscal conservatives in Congress. End the shutdown, they say, and allow President Obama to administer the paddle. A recent story in the Washington Post, for example, focused on how business leaders supposedly want Republicans to be “pragmatic” and not “revolutionary,” like Rep. Justin Amash.
Amash is so revolutionary that he wants to repeal an unpopular law: Obamacare. This is a law that the Democrats pushed through Congress in a very partisan and arm-twisty fashion without a single Republican vote. It is a law that the president has made a series of unilateral changes to without the approval of Congress.
The House Republicans have voted repeatedly to repeal Obamacare, and polls show that the general public has consistently opposed the law since it was passed more than three years ago. If there is a shortage of “pragmatism” anywhere, it is in a White House that has turned a deaf ear to the Obamacare concerns of Republicans and the general public.
The GOP has finally dug in its heels on Obamacare. Using a government shutdown to try and force reforms may seem extreme to some, but it is not unreasonable given the huge damaging impact that the law will have on our health care system.
Remember that the only major budget reform of recent years — the 2011 Budget Control Act — did not come about from the Republicans saying submissively to Obama, “Thank you Mr. President sir for your $1 trillion deficits, may we have another?” Instead, the Republicans confronted the president over a debt-limit vote to successfully force change.
Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, and editor of www.DownsizingGovernment.org. Before joining Cato, Edwards was a senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, a manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and an economist with the Tax Foundation.
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