Geologists are concerned that the Dead Sea’s water level is dropping faster than Santa from the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
Experts estimate the water level in this famous sea separating Israel and Jordan dropped by more than 131 feet since the 1950s and continues to lose more than three feet of water annually.
It’s not because too much water is somehow flowing out of the Sea of Salt, as it’s known.
One of the sea’s unique features is that it’s the terminal lake of the equally famous River Jordan. Water flows in from the Jordan but none flows out.
Scientists believe evaporation is a contributing factor.
Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-2nd District, rightly believes Washington’s budget process can be used to evaporate another sea – Obamacare’s ocean.
This approach allows Congress to use its power of the purse to weaken a dreadful plan while, at the same time, providing a strategy for transitioning millions of Americans who receive some type of subsidized coverage into better – and affordable – policies.
As Guthrie told me, Congress can use the budget process to “repeal everything in Obamacare that’s a spending or tax item.”
That, of course, includes mandates and their accompanying fines.
While the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing Obamacare to proceed was, in the annals of judicial history, as low as the Dead Sea’s surface – Earth’s lowest point – the black-robed justices at least correctly branded as a “tax” the Obamacare penalty cuffed on certain employers and individuals choosing not to offer or purchase coverage.
Evaporating Obamacare’s sea rather than draining its swamp allows Congress to expeditiously exorcise the health-care boondoggle’s worst demons while saving its best angels.
“Congress has the power to tax,” Guthrie told me. “So, you can choose whether or not you buy it, but if you choose not to buy it, then you have to pay a tax. So, what we (Congress) can say is: you don’t have to pay the tax.”
Since the budget-reconciliation process, which finalizes the spending plan for our current fiscal year, will be at the top of Congress’ agenda when it returns to Washington in January, eliminating this tax by the end of February could provide an economic boost to a lot of Kentuckians.
Congress can – and should – do this.
It would give badly needed breaks for low- and middle-income families who otherwise would receive smaller-than-needed federal tax-return checks this spring resulting from increased penalties for not purchasing unaffordable coverage.
Evaporating Obamacare’s swamp by choking it at its point of funding – without necessarily waiting until it has every replacement policy in place – allows Congress to:
· Avoid the Senate’s 60-vote threshold requirement, which would be enforced on a stand-alone repeal bill. Meeting this bar would be difficult considering the GOP holds only a 52-46 seat majority; budgets require only a simple majority vote.
· Give providers and insurers the opportunity to recover from Obamacare’s disastrous effects and reset plans with some confidence they can survive and stabilize.
· Address egregious funding issues created by Obamacare, including the $716 billion worth of Medicaid cuts used to pay for the imploding program.
Evaporating the sea using this approach would offer a beautiful constitutional approach toward getting rid of the current health-insurance ugliness.
It would reassert Congress’ power of the purse at a time when the unconstitutional growth of both the judicial and executive branches during Obama – and Obamacare’s – tenure must be reversed.
Scientists are concerned the Dead Sea might eventually dry up.
It won’t happen in our lifetime, but let’s hope the worst aspects of Obamacare evaporate into thin air during the next Congress.
Jim Waters is president at The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Read his weekly Bluegrass Beacon column at www.bipps.org. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @bipps on Twitter.