Op-ed: Fighting shutdown, Obamacare
Published in The Philadelphia Inquirer
October 6, 2013
Written by: Patrick Meehan, Charlie Dent, Lou Barletta, Jim Gerlach, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jon Runyan, and Frank LoBiondo
We're writing amid the first government shutdown in 17 years. This is an extraordinary time, and as a regional group of Republicans, we wanted to make clear what we're doing and why.
None of us wanted this shutdown. We worked tirelessly to stop it and to keep the government funded. And that continues today.
We have also worked to repeal, defund, delay, and dismantle Obamacare. And for good reason. It's led to lost coverage, fewer jobs, and higher insurance costs for families.
Despite the shutdown, Obamacare has come into effect. Already, the results have been plain and disastrous.
As many predicted, Obamacare's rollout has been a mess. Individuals and families across the country who logged on to try out the new services found themselves stymied by systems failures, error messages, and glitches. Employers are cutting hours, reducing workers to part-time status, or dropping coverage altogether. Unsurprisingly, no one is getting the $2,500 reduction in premiums we were promised the law would provide. And many are not able to keep their doctors, even if they liked them.
In the days since Obamacare started, the focus of our national debate has not been on these failures and the harm they're inflicting on hardworking taxpayers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Instead, it's been on the failure of Washington Republicans and Democrats to keep the government lights on.
The fight to stop Obamacare cannot continue with the government shut down. That's why we support a short-term, clean funding bill to turn those lights back on. The Senate has passed a six-week bill. Even Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said he'd support a one-week resolution.
There are other options. We're working with moderate Democrats on a plan to reopen the government for six months and repeal the job-killing medical-device tax. Our districts have thousands of workers who depend on the medical-technology industry, and this tax won't lower health costs. It will raise them for seniors needing hearing aids, pacemakers, and wheelchairs, as well as anyone else needing a medical device. It will shed jobs. Sens. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) support repealing this tax, too.
We all ran for Congress to fix government, make it accountable to the taxpayers who fund it, and keep it open. If we can't repeal Obamacare at the moment, we can stop it in parts. And Democrats will help us. But only if the government is open.
That's what we're working to do.
Patrick Meehan, Charlie Dent, Lou Barletta, Jim Gerlach, and Mike Fitzpatrick are congressmen from Pennsylvania. Jon Runyan, and Frank LoBiondo represent districts in New Jersey.