Topics: Barack Obama

Cooperation on fixing Obamacare not an option with Obama

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Beltway Confidential,Congress,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Senate,Harry Reid,Ashe Schow

President Obama told Republicans in Congress on Sept. 26 that if they do not like Obamacare, “they can go through the regular channels and processes to try to change it.”

The only problem with that statement is that Republicans have tried that already with great difficulty because of Obama and his Democratic supporters in Congress.

For example:

— When GOP Senators offered amendments and bills to fix parts of Obamacare, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., refused to let the Senate debate or vote on them

-- Reid even blocked a bipartisan fix -- the 40 Hours is Full Time Act -- to require employers to provide health insurance to employees working 40 hours per week, instead of the current threshold of 30 hours.

-- Republicans on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee submitted a bill to delay the individual mandate, just as Obama delayed the employer mandate.

But Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who chairs that panel, isn’t about to let the committee vote on whether to delay the individual mandate.

There was a symbolic vote on the Senate Republican proposal to repeal the medical device tax, but it was part of the Senate's fiscal year 2014 budget. Geese will fly to the North Pole for winter before that budget passes the House of Representatives.

Since Obamacare was signed into law in 2010, 20 amendments or delays have been adopted, but those were either insignificant or came following the administration's admission that parts of the law would not work.

Eight of those revisions came from Republican-introduced bills. However, six of the amendments were changes to payment formulas and taxes or reallocated Obamacare funds.

The other two Republican amendments did make a notable change to Obamacare, but those had the backing of the administration. The repeal of the 1099 provision came after businesses, Democrats and Obama called for its removal.

The other major change was the repeal of the CLASS Act, which only came about after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the provision was “unsustainable.” Even then, the repeal was included in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, not as a standalone fix.

Six of the 20 changes to Obamacare were done unilaterally by the Obama administration, without the consent of Congress, including the infamous employer mandate delay.

And just last Friday, the administration delayed by one month the enrollment date for most of the small-business exchanges, again, without asking Congress to change the law.

It’s ironic, too, that Obama now tells Republicans to go through regular order to change a law that was passed only because he and his Democratic supporters in Congress resorted to several irregular orders.

Final passage of the bill was done using a procedural maneuver known as reconciliation, which allowed the Senate to avoid its usual requirement of 60 votes to pass the law with only 51 votes.

This occurred because then-Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., had been elected to block the bill from meeting the usual 60-vote threshold.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tried to defend the Obama administration (while also knocking Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas) by saying that 228 Republican amendments were voted on during the original debate on Obamacare. However, the majority of the amendments were either technical or so broadly worded as to be meaningless.

Republican attempts to alter Obamacare have been made nearly impossible every step of the way. Working together to make the law better has only worked when the Obama administration suggested the change and was backed by outside groups and Democrats.

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