Republicans have said it over and over again: it's time for Washington to focus on the economy and jobs.
Now it's time to act.
Getting our economy back on track by reining in spending, creating jobs and reducing uncertainty is the central mission of the Republican majority in the House and the common thread linking our top legislative priorities.
Repealing ObamaCare is a key first step in that mission.
The Democrats' unyielding pursuit of health care reform over much of the last two years was driven by ideology, not the country's immediate economic concerns. After all, the so-called stimulus was supposed to take care of those. However, when Americans looked to Washington for pro-growth economic policies to turn our economy around, they instead got individual mandates, higher premiums and cuts to Medicare.
The fact that the law has nothing to do with our current economic problems is bad enough, but what's even worse is that it doubles down on the same formula that has put America on an unsustainable long-term fiscal path. Our national debt currently exceeds $14 trillion and the unfunded liabilities of our entitlement programs will bankrupt our country. The last thing we need is to add another one to speed up that process. Obamacare is a gigantic new entitlement fueled by approximately $500 billion in new taxes and at least $1 trillion in new spending over the next decade.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, economists Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Joseph Antos and James C. Capretta argue that Obamacare's cost will likely be substantially higher than the original $1 trillion estimate: "Over ten years of full implementation, it's more like $2.3 trillion," they write.
To paraphrase an old saying, a trillion here -- a trillion there -- and pretty soon we're talking about real money. You can understand why American businesses have been wary of late and why they are still hesitant to invest capital and take risks.
The strength of America's broader economic system depends upon confidence and certainty on the part of job creators that America is the best place for risk-taking and long-term investment in the world. Obamacare makes that an exceedingly difficult prospect. Whether Obamacare will cost $1 trillion or $2.3 trillion over the next ten years is not just a problem for economists and academics to ponder and debate; it's one of the many question marks surrounding the law that is holding job creators back. While this is just one part of our plan to get Americans back to work, repealing Obamacare will help restore confidence in our economy and produce the environment necessary for robust job growth.
While Obamacare jeopardizes America's broader economic health, it's our state and local governments that will acutely feel the pain of this law. Obamacare is creating an unfunded mandate in my home state of Arizona that will cost $11.4 billion in new Medicaid enrollment requirements -- a figure we simply cannot afford. For years, Arizona's Medicaid program has been a model for other states. Now, due to the new requirements in Obamacare, Arizona must limit life-saving services and will still have to look for other funding sources, such as cutting education, in order to pay for Obamacare requirements. Other states are facing similarly untenable burdens imposed by the law.
There's no doubt that our health care system needs common-sense reforms, but Obamacare is not the answer. Americans made that clear on November 2, and we intend to listen. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare not so we can pat ourselves on the back for sticking to our principles, but because it is the right thing for our economy, both now and later.
Ben Quayle represents Arizona's 3rd Congressional District and is a member of the Homeland Security, Judiciary and Science, Space and Technology Committees.