By Representative Steve King and Senator Jim DeMint
Every election, voters are told that this election is the most important of our lifetimes. In most elections, it's not really true. In 2012, though, it probably is true, for one reason: Obamacare.
Two years after a Democratic Congress and President Obama foisted onto the American people an unpopular trillion-dollar takeover of American health care, we know that Obamacare is, in fact, even more unpopular than before and that it will cost almost $2 trillion.
The American people were told Obamacare would reduce health care costs, but premiums already are jumping. The American people were told they could keep their own coverage, but a new Congressional Budget Office report says millions will lose their current coverage every year.
Indeed, the final hurdle for Obamacare's passage was Mr. Obama's and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi's scramble to convince religiously minded Democrats that religious liberty and individual conscience rights would be protected under their new law. The recent abortion-pill mandate shows those 11th-hour promises were false.
So, as should be the case about something as important as a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy, the final decision about Obamacare must be made by the American people at the ballot box. Already, voters voiced their disapproval in the historic 2010 elections, which sent many Obamacare supporters to the unemployment line.
This year, the November elections will either return to Washington a pro-Obamacare president and Congress or a pro-repeal president and Congress. They will have a mandate to enact the public's will, one way or the other.
Conservatives should affirm these certitudes: First, legislating according to the consent of the governed is what our republic is all about. Second, Obamacare - contrary to Democrats' expectations - has only grown more unpopular since it was passed, as its ugly details have emerged and offended. Third, Obamacare is not an indirect, gimmicky campaign issue but a direct, concrete, firable offense the president and Democrats in Congress committed against our will and in plain view.
Were the entire 2012 general election debate reduced to "candidates from this party will implement Obamacare and candidates from that party will repeal Obamacare," that debate would do our nation credit and do great service to the electorate.
Unfortunately, the clarity of that choice may soon be muddied, not by Democrats desperate to hide from their record, but inexplicably, by Republicans pushing a vote on a bill to undo one part of Obamacare: the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).
IPAB is one of the most obnoxious parts of Obamacare: The unelected, unaccountable board of "experts" who effectively will be able to decide which patients can receive which treatments at what costs and from which doctors. The essence of Obamacare is government rationing of people's access to medicine: IPAB bureaucrats are the rationers.
So we are as adamantly opposed to IPAB as we are to the rest of Obamacare - from the individual mandate to the abortion-pill requirement to the multitrillion-dollar price tag.
But IPAB is not distinct from Obamacare; it's an inextricable part of the whole. As such, it should be repealed as part of the whole. The same holds true for attempts to surgically extract out the attack on religious freedom, the individual mandate and the financially unsustainable CLASS Act long-term care entitlement. Repealing little pieces of Obamacare here and there to render the cataclysmic merely disastrous undermines not only the essential causes of liberty and repeal, but the clarity of the choice the American people deserve.
The Democratic Party is the party of Obamacare. If Republicans, through their toying with Obamacare, present themselves to voters as the party of some of Obamacare, we will lose. We will deserve to lose. The blame for the coming decades of debt, dependence and decline will fall to us.
A vote to repeal only IPAB sends the message that we believe Obamacare is the patient and IPAB is the cancer that needs to be removed to save Obamacare. Our true patient is health care freedom, and Obamacare - not part of it, but all 2,000 pages - is the malignancy.
Given a choice between Obamacare as it is or full repeal, a majority of Americans and - if not now, very soon - a majority of Congress will choose full repeal. Therefore, that must be the only choice Republicans offer. Until Obamacare is fully repealed, the only health care votes Republicans should cast should be for full repeal of the unconstitutional takeover.
The idea that we can "fix" Obamacare is as fatal as the president's conceit in contending that Obamacare would "fix" the health care system. We know what real reform looks like - people owning their own health plans; treatment decisions made privately between patients and their doctors; freedom to purchase health plans across state lines; and help for the poor, the elderly and the sick. It looks nothing like the monstrosity the president forced on us, and it looks nothing like the slightly less monstrous version partial repeals would leave us with.
The American people's message to the Republican Party in 2010 should be the same message we send back to the people in 2012. When it comes to Obamacare, end it, don't mend it.
Rep. Steve King is an Iowa Republican. Sen. Jim DeMint is a South Carolina Republican. Both have authored legislation to fully repeal Obamacare.