Lee & Farr decry shutdown during House debate

A few Northern California House members were among those who took to the lectern moments ago during the latest floor debate on the impending federal government shutdown.

The House is debating the latest GOP plan: tying a one-year delay of Obamacare’s individual mandate to the continuing resolution that would keep the government funded and running past midnight tonight.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz, called a shutdown “a huge mistake.” He said his party fought vehemently against the decision to go to war in Iraq, against welfare reform, and against lots of other things in recent decade, but with each, “we didn’t shut down the government after we lost that debate – instead, we tried to make it work.”

The shutdown, however, will hurt everyone from farmers trying to export food to mothers feeding their children with government aid, to students hungry for a school meal.

“It’s a mean, reckless, ill-conceived idea to shut down government,” Farr said.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, was a bit fierier still.

“Here we go again, Mr. Speaker – it’s really no secret that the Tea Party Republicans came here not really as public servants, but to destroy and decimate our government … This is, really, their dream vote,” Lee said. “It is shameful and it is downright wrong.”

“Make no mistake, the unnecessary GOP shutdown will have serious consequences for millions,” she said, and after more than 40 fruitless votes to cripple or repeal Obamacare, “this Tea Party obsession… to kill the government and to deny healthcare to millions of Americans, this must end… This hostage-taking must end.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was equally fiery in denouncing Obamacare. “It was passed in the middle of the night, 2,300 pages that nobody had ever read, and it’s having all kinds of consequences for our constituents, the American people,” Boehner said.

“Something has to be done, so my Republican colleagues and I thought we should defund the law for a year,” he said, noting the Senate disagreed.

But if the Obama administration has issued waivers and decided to delay enforcement of the employer mandate, why should ordinary Americans be stuck with a bill they can’t afford*, he asked. “It’s about fairness for the American people. Why don’t we make sure that every American is treated just like we are?”

(Click here to read more about who’s footing what bills.)

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Bruce

    Shut down the government over Obamacare?

  • JohnW

    Clever argument by GOP — that, since Obama delayed the employer mandate, it’s only fair to delay the individual mandate. Only problem is the two aren’t the least bit equivalent.

    First, the worst that happens to an individual who decides to not get insurance the first year is a $95 penalty, and even that is waived for a low income individual.

    Second, the reason the employer mandate was delayed is that Republicans refused to work with Democrats to make statutory adjustments to the mandate after the business community raised some legitimate concerns about the administrative details. Republicans wanted to kill ObamaCare, not tweak it. So, Obama just stepped in and delayed it — a perfectly reasonable pro-business step that government agencies and courts do all the time.

    The GOP spin is that Obama ripped the Constitution to shreds. They seem to forget that the Bush administration did the same thing with aspects of the Medicare prescription drug and Medicare Advantage legislation.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Obamacare is as plain as the nose on the Asian guy’s forehead

  • JohnW

    One of my neighbors likes it. Self-employed and uninsured at 57 due to pre-existing. Now she can buy coverage on the exchange. She’s not looking for a subsidy, just the same opportunity to obtain coverage without regard to pre-existing conditions that everybody in a tax preferenced employer group plan has.

  • Elwood

    I think Obamacare is just wonderful. All those pre-existing conditions and 25 year old layabout kids will now be covered. But who will pay for all this largesse I wonder? Please don’t tell me how the young and well are going to pay for the sick and indigent. That pig won’t fly. Obamacare, should it survive, will be the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the planet. Saul Alinsky must be tap dancing in his grave.

  • JohnW

    In the real world example I gave, her income is too high to qualify for a tax credit subsidy. She just wants to be able to buy the insurance, so that she won’t have to choose between going without coverage due to pre-existing conditions or being financially ruined trying to pay for care out of pocket. She has already enrolled through the exchange but now has to wait until January for coverage to kick in.

    Whether a person gets covered through Medicare or through an employer plan, everybody’s health care is taxpayer subsidized. 75% of Medicare Part B coverage (about $400 per month) is paid for by taxpayers, not by Medicare payroll taxes. If you’re in the 25% federal income tax bracket, and your employer pays $10,000 per year for your coverage, the tax exemption adds up to a $2,500 subsidy.

    So, why should the 60 million people who have to get coverage through the individual insurance market be the only people who have to deal with the pre-existing condition issue, or the only people who don’t receive some type of taxpayer support for their insurance coverage?