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OPINION - Defund ObamaCare: this time could be different

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)   The conventional wisdom from Washington is that there will be no government shutdown and that tea party Republicans will be pushed back into line by their leaders. That’s how it’s worked before. It may be different this time.

There is a double tipping point coming at the end of the month. The GOP really does have a last chance to actually stop ObamaCare. Members of congress who want this would need to play their cards right. (There are no guarantees they’re smart enough to pull it off, but they just might.)

Let’s take a look at what’s happening here in Wisconsin. Federally run health insurance exchanges under ObamaCare begin on October 1st, a scant seven days away. Residents in 24 counties were told last week that they’ll have no choice of health insurance providers in the exchanges – only one insurance company was willing to offer policies. Other counties have two or three choices. But, one week away, we still don’t know how much these policies will cost. We could get that information any day now… but it’s a given these plans will be more expensive than anyone imagined.

Let’s say the insurance cost information comes out on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Let’s also imagine most Wisconsinites have a sudden case of sticker-shock. Well, Friday, may also be the day Congress is voting on a temporary spending bill to keep the government running – the last chance to defund ObamaCare. 31 states are part of the federal exchanges. They’ll all be getting their health insurance cost information at around the same time. That’s the moment that the GOP can say, “we will stop this. We will stop this right now. We may have to shut down the government, but we’ll protect you from these huge premium increases.”

Most Americans are opposed to a government shutdown on principle. But more people would consider a government shutdown if it’s a roadblock to having their pockets picked. The shutdown would become a pocketbook issue, not a politics-only issue. And everyone in elected office knows that fortunes turn on pocketbook issues. The costs might be high enough that even some Democrats would wobble.

ObamaCare is already unpopular. It’s about to become more unpopular once people learn what they’ll have to pay. I think that’s when the public would be willing to consider what can be done to stop this beast. The shutdown/defund option might work after all. Maybe.

Chris Conley