By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, United States Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama told a Senate Subcommittee: “I firmly support the full repeal of ObamaCare and will not support a Labor/HHS Appropriations bill that includes further discretionary funding for the program.” Senator Shelby is the Ranking Republican Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.
Alabama’s senior Senator said, “Two-thirds of Americans hope the Supreme Court will overturn some or all of ObamaCare. The American people clearly do not want what ObamaCare will inevitably bring: higher taxes and lower quality of care. We should not mortgage our children’s future for non-essential, unproven programs that grow the size and scope of the federal government.”
In particular, Sen. Shelby was critical of the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Sen. Shelby called the Prevention fund a “slush fund.” The Senator complained that ObamaCare authorized and permanently appropriated funding for the Prevention Fund over 10 years automatically without any additional Congressional action.
Shelby cited several examples of what he called “questionable activities” that the Prevention Fund has used taxpayer dollars for: a public relations campaign to promote ObamaCare programs, grants to lobby local officials on raising taxes on sugary beverages, printing flyers to promote the importance of spaying and neutering pets, a program to set national standards on appropriate television viewing time for children, and CMS Health Insurance Exchanges.
“It is illogical to pour money into programs that may be ruled unconstitutional should the Supreme Court decide to overturn ObamaCare,” said Shelby. The Fiscal Year 2013 bill includes an increase of $547 million to support the implementation of the new federal health insurance exchanges. Some states (including Alabama) have moved forward with their own healthcare exchange. At this point, no one knows how many states will opt to have healthcare exchanges since most states are waiting for the Supreme Court’s pending decision on the Constitutionality of Obamacare. This makes it impossible to know the size and scope of the necessary federal exchanges.
“The administration has received billions in ObamaCare-related funding to implement a law that over two thirds of Americans oppose,” said Sen. Shelby. “It is time to put an end to unchecked government expansion.”
Sen. Shelby also objected to the Fiscal Year 2013 bill’s $288.3 million budget request for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). “This is a classic example of bureaucratic overreach. Last year the NLRB wanted to tell a private company where they could build a facility. This year they want to limit employers’ ability to respond to a union’s formation. Few federal agencies have worked as hard to disrupt the free market as the NLRB. Congress should not continue to fund an agency that enacts a radical, anti-business agenda at the expense of workers and the economy.” The NLRB has grown by 14.5% under President Obama.
The same bill also spends $600 million for Obama’s Race to the Top Program. The Education Department is using the funds to bait the states and school districts into implement Obama’s education reform plans. Sen. Shelby said, “It is critical that federal education funding ensure that all students have access to a quality education,” said Shelby. “However, the Race to the Top program turns that notion on its head by investing in a competitive program that only benefits students in states that implement the administration’s prescriptive education agenda.”
Sen. Shelby saved his strongest wording for Obamacare, “The majority of Americans do not want the Affordable Care Act or what it will inevitably bring: higher taxes and lower quality of care.” “In Fiscal Year 2013, the Labor/HHS Appropriations bill provides nearly $4 billion in new discretionary funding for Affordable Care Act-authorized programs. This is in addition to the $35 billion in mandatory spending that has been funded on autopilot over the past two years alone. There is no reason after spending $35 billion, that we should support double-dipping into the discretionary budget for additional dollars as well.”
Sen. Shelby said, “On top of this massive increase in federal spending, the Affordable Care Act is expanding the footprint of the federal government, hiring over 1250 employees to work solely on implementation in the past two years. It is foolish to believe that another federal entitlement would ever save this nation money. How could a law pay for insurance coverage for millions of new people and extend the solvency of Medicare while simultaneously reducing the deficit? The answer is simple – it cannot.”
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) is constitutional or not within days. Republican Presidential nominee apparent Gov. Mitt Romney has vowed to overturn the unpopular act if he defeats President Obama on November 6th.
Sen. Richard Shelby was elected to Senate in 1986 and lives in Tuscaloosa.