Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) on Wednesday said he’s “not in the shut-down-the-government crowd,” but rather in the “take-over-the-government crowd that is ready to repeal and replace Obamacare with step-by-step reforms that would reduce the costs of health care.”
“Every one of us has voted against voted against Obamacare,” Senator Alexander said of Republicans in a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate. “Every one of us would vote to repeal it, but in my view, the right tactic is not to shut down the government. It won’t work – Obamacare would just keep going and we would have shut down the government.”
Senator Alexander continued, “Shutting down the government will not stop Obamacare.” The law would continue to be funded, Alexander said, because nearly 85 percent of the law’s funding is mandatory spending that is not affected by a government shutdown. President Obama could also continue to implement Obamacare by deeming it an “essential” part of government services.
The senator provided a list of ways that a government shutdown would harm Tennesseans and all Americans, including:
- 3.4 million active-duty military personnel who would have to report to work – whether in Fort Campbell or Afghanistan – without getting paid during the shutdown
- Department of Defense schools for the children of military personnel could be closed during the shutdown
- Flight delays for the nearly 2 million Americans who fly each day because of fewer Transportation Security Administration Agents
- Furloughed workers at national laboratories, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee
- Closure of national parks, such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Delays in payments to veterans and recipients of Social Security
- Delays in the processing of gun permits by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
- Delays in the processing of federal student loans
Senator Alexander said, “Who do you suspect is going to get blamed for this? We will have succeeded in shifting the blame for passing Obamacare from the Democrats, who did it unanimously, to the Republicans for shutting down the government.”
Instead of shutting down the government, Senator Alexander said, Americans should elect more Republicans to the U.S. Senate – and ultimately a Republican president – to enact their own plan. He offered two steps to dismantling Obamacare – repealing the law’s taxes and mandates, followed by nine steps to replacing it with step-by-step reforms:
- Make Medicare solvent, so seniors can depend on it to be there for them and their grandchildren.
- Give governors more flexibility with their state Medicaid programs, so they can lower costs, improve health outcomes, and have more money for other programs like education and roads.
- Strengthen innovative workplace wellness programs that empower employees with more incentives to make healthy lifestyle choices.
- Let small businesses pool their resources and offer lower-cost insurance plans for their employees.
- Provide families the opportunity to purchase insurance across state lines, creating greater competition between insurance companies and lowering premiums for everyone.
- Expand access to Health Savings Accounts and catastrophic health insurance plans, giving people more affordable insurance options that fit their lifestyles.
- Incentivize the growth of private health insurance exchanges to give consumers expanded health insurance choices and allow them to keep insurance between jobs.
- Make it easier for patients to compare prices and the quality of doctors and medical services.
- Incentivize states to reform junk lawsuits that drive up health care costs for everyone and are driving medical professionals out of their profession.
“The best way to do it is to take over the government,” Senator Alexander said of defeating Obamacare. “Elect some more senators. Elect a president. Put in a bill. That’s our constitutional system.”