To understand why so many conservatives in Congress are willing to risk a government shutdown in their quest to cut spending and derail “Obamacare,” take a look at Indiana and the state’s crop of young Republicans in the U.S. House Representatives.
The voters in their home districts gave them a simple message at town hall meetings in August:“Stand up to President Barack Obama and block his health insurance reforms.”
Indiana constituents don’t support the health care law and are insisting their elected officials vote to defund it.
The efforts of Indiana’s House Republicans are certain to be rejected by Democrats. Obama has already issued a veto threat. So the ensuing fight will heighten the risk of a government shutdown or debt default which will unnerve financial markets.
That is a risk that many conservatives see as essential, with key parts of the law due to take effect in October.
“The American people want this law stopped one way or another,” Representative Marlin Stutzman of northeast Indiana told Reuters. “We are willing to hold out on this one.” _______________________________________________________________
Republicans argue that the Affordable Care Act will cost jobs, reduce employee working hours and increase health premiums and are focused on the projected spending increase which would nudge the sprawling U.S. healthcare system to over $3 trillion in total spending for 2014, representing a cost of $9,697 for every man, woman and child, or 18.3 percent of the U.S. economy! (Source of information is Reuters. Click HERE to reference.)
Over the longer term, healthcare spending growth would accelerate to 6.5 percent by 2022, when the industry would hit the $5 trillion mark and represent 19.9 percent of gross domestic product.
Indiana’s Republicans are willing to make tough choices and to accept the accompanying risks.
These Republicans do not fit the Democratic caricature of conservative Tea Party novices who are holding the House hostage. Several have experience in Indiana state government, making tough budget choices under former Republican Governor Mitch Daniels.
Daniel’s success in turning around the state’s finances prompted speculation that Daniels might make a presidential bid in 2012, but he opted against running.
Under Mitch Daniels’ leadership, Indiana cut taxes and built up a surplus. Now it consistently ranks highest in the Midwest in business climate surveys, while neighbors Illinois and Michigan struggle financially. But Indiana’s unemployment rate, at 8.3 percent, is a full percentage point above the national average as its manufacturing base struggles to recover from the recession.
The experience at the state level has driven the Indiana Republicans in Congress to try to replicate the same formula in Washington.
Three members – Todd Rokita, Messer and Jackie Walorski – now serve on the House Budget Committee, a big presence for a state with only 6.5 million residents. Todd Young switched from that panel to the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. And Stutzman, another Budget Committee alumnus, saw his standing in the caucus rise after the House passed his plan to separate the $74 billion food stamp program from a long-stalled farm bill, a move aimed at shrinking the nutrition subsidies.
“I think we’ve been able to prove in this state, statistically, that balanced budgets create stable economies, create jobs, and there is a way out of the mess we’re in at the federal level,” said Walorski, who once described herself as a “pit bull” in the state capitol.
Freshman Representative Susan Brooks, a former U.S. attorney in Indiana, has local, state and federal government experience, most recently as general counsel for the state’s network of community colleges.
The group often repeats a Daniels mantra: “You’d be amazed at how much government you won’t miss.”
INDIANA VOTERS ARE WATCHING
The seven Indiana Republicans face little threat of losing their seats to Democrats in 2014 if they dig in on the budget and Obamacare. The congressional boundaries some of them helped redraw in 2011 concentrated the state’s two Democrats into central Indianapolis and the industrial northwest corner. The Republican districts are now largely carpeted in corn and soybeans, giving them a naturally conservative rural base.
“Indiana is an agrarian state. A bumper crop one year could be met with drought the next, so you better focus on long-term goals,” said Wendy Dant Chesser, president of One Southern Indiana, the Chamber of Commerce in New Albany, Indiana.
Instead, any threat is more likely to come from the right if they are too soft on spending. The influential conservative group Club for Growth, headed by former Indiana Republican congressman Chris Chocola, is watching their every vote.
Similar sentiments expressed in conservative Republican districts across the country have put members in no mood to compromise on the fiscal deadlines.
Rokita, a second-term congressman who boasts that his 2010 budget as Indiana secretary of state was at 1987 levels, said the Obamacare defunding vote was “a reasonable reflection of what my constituents wanted of me. I think we’re best when we’re bold,” he said. “I keep trying to preach that to our leadership.”
Opposition to ObamaCare — already wildly unpopular when it was passed — is becoming increasingly strong and widespread. In my opinion, it’s about time MORE politicians follow Indiana’s elected representative’s example and deeply consider WHO they SHOULD BE fighting for. (HINT TO LAWMAKERS: The WHO should NOT be your pharmaceutical and insurance political donors.)