Dear Mr. Danilow,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent fiscal battles over ObamaCare and the federal debt limit. I appreciate the opportunity to address these issues.
On September 30, 2013, the continuing resolution that funded the government through Fiscal Year 2014 expired. Since Congress did not approve new spending authorization, this triggered a partial government shutdown. There were two additional distinct and separate issues at play in this recent standoff: ObamaCare and the federal debt limit. I would like to briefly address each of these issues and their impact on our nation's current and future financial stability.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), often called ObamaCare, was pushed through a Democratic Congress and touted by President Obama and Democrats as a law that would help Americans purchase affordable health care insurance. Instead, this law has become detrimental for millions of Americans as it is negatively changing virtually every aspect of health care insurance and delivery in an effort to create a government-run, single-payer health care system. ObamaCare is costing hard-working people hours at work, the insurance they have now and are happy with, forcing them to leave their existing doctors, and raising rates current insurance policies.
Americans will be taxed as a punishment for not having health insurance under ObamaCare despite the fact that the website they are supposed to purchase insurance on does not work. I have introduced legislation that would provide short-term relief and protection to Americans from the rollout of ObamaCare. "The Delay Until Fully Functional Act of 2013", S.1592, would delay the individual mandate, and require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study and report to Congress on whether the ObamaCare exchange websites are fully functional. Once GAO says the websites are functional, the Health and Human Services Inspector General (HHS IG) would certify the results of the report. The individual mandate delay would end six months after the HHS IG certification.
These disastrous consequences are the reason that I am committed to the full repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, and why I continue to oppose using taxpayer dollars on a law that will hurt American people and the American dream. Leading up to and during the shutdown House Republicans passed a law funding the entire government except for ObamaCare, and numerous other bills that would have funded important government programs, including our National Parks, veterans' benefits, and early childhood education programs. On the other hand, the Democrats demanded that Congress fund ObamaCare or fund nothing at all, which caused a stalemate for over two weeks.
Another issue emerged during the government shutdown: the U.S. Department of the Treasury became close to reaching the federal debt limit of $16.7 trillion. Every year our government is spending more money than it takes in, running trillion dollar deficits, and as the years go by, that annual deficit adds up. Our national debt now exceeds $17 trillion. Congress continues to kick the can down the road and ignore our astronomical debt by authorizing increases in the debt ceiling without meaningful reforms, moving us closer to the day when we will face a real debt crisis. I oppose raising the debt limit if it does not address the root of our fiscal crisis: spending beyond our means.
As you know, on October 16, Congress reached a short-term deal to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling. This short-term deal reopened the federal government. After approving the bill by a vote margin of 81-18, the Senate sent the bill to the House of Representatives, which subsequently passed the bill, and sent it to the President's desk for final approval. The deal funds the government at current spending levels through January 15, 2014, and suspends the debt limit through February 7, 2014. Additionally, the legislation instructs both chambers to appoint members to a budget conference to craft a larger, longer-term spending package by December 13, 2013.
I could not support this deal because it again postponed any significant action on pro-growth and spending reforms and does nothing to provide working class Americans even one shred of relief from ObamaCare's harmful effects. This debate is about whether we are going to make real reforms to protect the American dream and rein in our government spending or continue business as usual. The deal also did nothing to address the nation's debt crisis. It only set up another battle over it in just a few short months. You can watch my speech on the U.S. Senate floor about how the real crisis still remains here.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please rest assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as Congress examines fiscal issues in the future. As your U.S. Senator, I will fight for a responsible budget that addresses the long-term fiscal and economic issues we face as a nation. It is an honor to serve you and the people of Florida.
United States Senator