Speaker Boehner: I have to say I was disappointed that the President refuses to negotiate.
President Obama: Let’s stop the excuses. Let’s take a vote in the House. Let’s end this shutdown right now.
Speaker Boehner: The president’s position that we’re not going to sit down and talk to you until you surrender is just not sustainable. It’s not our system of government.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: We’re looking at almost two weeks of a government shutdown. Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have pushed the issue of Obamacare to the front line along with the Republican House. There is a defined partisan divide in the House and Senate and a standoff between the Republican Congress and the White House, even a bit of a breakdown between Republicans on strategy, but those fighting to stop Obamacare see this is as a do or die for the economy and possibly the U.S. as we know it. Here to discuss is Chris Jacobs; he’s the senior policy analyst at Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies. Chris, good to have you with us.
Chris Jacobs: Thanks for having me, Kurt.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Give us some background on Heritage Foundation’s involvement in dealing with Obamacare.
Chris Jacobs: Well, the Heritage Foundation has been active in pointing out the flaws in Obamacare even before it passed into law. We think it’s the Unaffordable Care Act. It’s a very unpopular law; we’ve seen that it’s unworkable, and it’s unfair, and it will raise premiums, raise costs and raise federal spending. So, given all that, we thought that this was a moment and an opportunity for Congress, before the exchanges come online and the subsidies start flowing, to take action to prevent the most harmful effects of this law from starting.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Fast forward to, let’s say, a month ago or two months ago when we started to see some of the companies that are affected by this and then seeing what’s happening in Washington D.C. What’s your involvement been — you’ve had some great commercials come out — gone viral, but in terms of dealing with, educating the public on what you have said about the economy, what’s your role in that?
Chris Jacobs: Sure. I think the American people have always been concerned about Obamacare since 2009, and you saw the August recess in 2009, the massive backlash at the town halls. And we went out in the country, our sister organization — Heritage Action — sponsored a defund Obamacare town hall tour across nine different states over August to reach out to the American people and tell them about the harm done by this law and what they could do to help and try to get Congress to fix it. We’ve continued that educational campaign, we’ve had — as you mentioned — various online web ads; we’ve had a billboard — a massive billboard that’s hanging in New York’s Times Square, and it’s been there for almost a month, educating the American people about the harmful effects of this law.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Why is it so important for Heritage Foundation to be doing this at this time?
Chris Jacobs: Well because, Kurt, the subsidies start flowing on January 1 — that is 1.8 trillion dollars in new spending over the next 10 years. And, while we certainly will always keep up the fight against Obamacare and push for its repeal, it obviously becomes much harder when you have people on benefits starting in January that want to stay on the government rolls, and so that’s why we think that this is the last chance before the exchanges come online and the subsidies start flowing to really try to put a halt to this law.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Heritage Foundation is catching a lot of heat in the media now, and of course from the left and some Republicans, as well. What do you say to that?
Chris Jacobs: Well, we think that this is an important fight, and it’s a fight worth having. We’re not doing it on our behalf; we’re doing it on behalf of the American people: the American people, whose premiums are getting raised, whose taxes are going up. The American people who were promised they could keep their coverage but are now finding out that they’re losing it. The American people that are worried about access to care — whether they will continue to be able to see their own physicians, whether the quality of care provided will deteriorate in the coming years. That’s why we’re having this fight.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: What’s the next steps that you see unfolding here? We’ve got a standoff between the Republicans and the Democrats. Where do you see this going, at this point?
Chris Jacobs: We hope that constituents on — that members of both sides of the aisle — will listen to the American people that have said that this law is unworkable, it’s unfair, and it’s unpopular, and the American people need relief from this train wreck. It does not bode well for the future of healthcare in our country, when after three years and 600 million dollars, the federal government can’t get a website to work. And so we think that Congress should listen to their constituents and do something to stop people…to stop this unworkable law from taking effect.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Let’s say that Congress can’t stop it, and 2014, we see this implemented. What are the effects? What do we have coming, if we can’t stop this?
Chris Jacobs: I think you’re going to see more federal spending. You’re going to see employers potentially getting out of the business of providing health insurance and dumping their employees onto exchanges, which will erode the quality of care and lead to skyrocketing federal expenses. People’s premiums keep going up; they will go up by more next year — the premium increases are coming in. President Obama promised — candidate Obama — promised in 2008 that health insurance premiums will go down by $2500 under his plan. Instead, they have gone up by thousands of dollars, and they will continue to go up. And this is the Unaffordable Care Act for millions of Americans, and we think that people will be suffering those effects for many years to come.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Regarding companies, will we see corporate flight to overseas and places that don’t have to deal with Obamacare?
Chris Jacobs: Well, certainly companies that will take the steps that they need to take to try to avoid the employer mandate and the new costs associated with Obamacare. You’re seeing that come these cutting hours, cutting jobs, to say, under 50 full-time employees to keep their workers under 30 hours per week. You’re seeing all these sorts of things. And the idea that companies will figure out ways to gain the system, and to try to avoid the new mandates and penalties and then dump their low-paid workers onto Obamacare and onto these exchanges, so we will continue to see that kind of behavior in the future.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Any tragedies that you’ve seen so far with the effects of Obamacare on particular companies or individuals?
Chris Jacobs: We see it every day when we get news stories, emails from individuals. We now have a Twitter campaign, getting people to Tweet in their premium increases under the hashtag “Obama hikes” to show that the law is raising premiums not lowering them. I spoke in Times Square — we did a video a couple of weeks ago with a man whose wife is battling cancer, and he is very worried about the quality of care that will be impacted for him and his wife under Obamacare. Those are the kind of personal stories that we’re seeing every day and continue to grow, which is why we are in this effort.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Now we’re seeing from Democrats and Republicans and just independents — anybody — Americans that are realizing the costs that they’re going to have to incur because of Obamacare. Isn’t this helping the argument?
Chris Jacobs: It is.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Yeah.
Chris Jacobs: And certainly the fact that you’re being forced to buy health insurance, but you can’t buy it on a website that doesn’t work, is making the point entirely. The administration had three and a half years to try to create this website. It’s not working. People were promised their premiums would go down; they’re going up. It’s not working. It’s why we need to try to stop Obamacare and have Congress prevent the harmful effects from happening on the American people.
Kurt Wallace for Rare: Chris Jacobs, Heritage Foundation. We appreciate you spending some time with us today on Rare.
Chris Jacobs: Thanks very much.
Kurt Wallace lives in Atlanta and has been active in new media since 2007 specializing in strategic content. As a podcast host he has interviewed hundreds of guests in politics, business, economics and entertainment. Wallace has served over 20 national political campaigns as a fundraising consultant and producer for online fundraising broadcasts including Rand Paul 2010 and Ron Paul 2012 campaigns. His most important role in life is being a father to an incredible son. He’s a football fan and an amateur poker player.
Chris Jacobs is a Senior Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation.