Sunday, February 18, 2018
Politics

Rubio: defund healthcare law, balance budget

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told a conservative group Thursday morning that he won't vote for a temporary federal budget unless it temporarily defunds Obamacare.

But Rubio's requirements for funding government didn't end there.

"We should refuse to raise the debt limit by one single cent unless we pass and the president agrees to sign a budget that shows us how we're going to get to balance in at least 10 years," the Republican said.

"This is not an unreasonable request. They will say that it is. But it is not," Rubio said, pointing to the size of the federal debt. "They will say 'oh, you're going to risk default.' The $17 trillion debt is the risk of default. The lack of any plan to fix it is the risk of default."

Rubio's comments at the Concerned Veterans for America and The Weekly Standard's "Defend & Reform" Breakfast in Washington stopped short of offering specific solutions for tackling the debt, fixing the economy or improving regulations.

Rubio's speech also notably lacked an emphasis on what has been his signature issue for the past six months: immigration. Now that the Democrat-controlled Senate has passed a plan he helped draft, Rubio is taking a step back from the issue publicly.

Aides say Rubio also doesn't want to appear to pressure the Republican-led House, which is refusing to take up the Senate's legislation. Critics point out that the immigration issue might have cost him some support among Republicans nationally, two polls indicate.

Later Thursday, the Senate's Democratic budget chairwoman, Washington's Patty Murray, struck back at Rubio and Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee for their opposition to Obamacare, which she said was designed "to push us to a crisis ... they want to do that in order to cut off health care coverage for 25 million people, re-open the doughnut hole and cause seniors to pay more for their prescriptions, end free preventive care for our seniors, and much more."

Before Rubio made his ultimatums, he took issue with those who longed for a return to the bipartisan days when Republican President Ronald Reagan and former Democratic House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill worked together.

"There's a difference between then and now. The difference is that for much of American history, you had two political parties who shared a common view about the role of government," Rubio said. "At the end of the day, they had some commonality in their philosophical vision of what America's role in the world is and what America's government's role in the economy should be."

Rubio seemed to blame Obama for the increased partisan divide.

"What we have today with this administration is not a policy disagreement," he said. "What we have with this administration is a deep philosophical disagreement that cannot be bridged. You cannot have limited government and big government at the same time."

Liberals on Twitter reacted by pointing out that the Republican Party has changed more than the Democrats, noting that Reagan approved an illegal immigration amnesty and tax increases on the wealthy — issues that many Republicans now say are anathema.

Also, Obama's Affordable Care Act rested on a plan dreamed up by Republicans: a mandate that all people buy health insurance. Yet when the president proposed the individual mandate years later, Republicans called it tyranny.

Democrats blame some of Obamacare's problems on what they call Republican "obstruction." The U.S. House has voted at least 37 times to repeal the law and Speaker John Boehner promised more votes like it.

Rubio said Obamacare has numerous problems and is "unimplementable."

Rubio faulted it for holding the economy back and paving the way for fraud. He said unscrupulous people can lie about their income and receive health-insurance subsidies that they don't deserve.

Rubio also pointed out that the administration recently delayed implementing an employer mandate. As a result, Rubio said, the next temporary budget vote in September — known as a "continuing resolution" — shouldn't fund the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

"You want to delay implementation? Don't fund it," Rubio said. "And if we have a six month continuing resolution, we should defund the implementation of ObamaCare by those six months."

"But we should not pass a continuing resolution," he continued, "and I will not vote for a continuing resolution unless it defunds ObamaCare for the period of time of the continuing resolution. I'd like to see it permanently repealed, but at a minimum, we should agree to do that."

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