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Bonner Column: Continuing to Push for Obamacare Repeal, House Votes to Delay Coverage Mandates


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Last week, the House of Representatives passed twin pieces of legislation delaying one of the most controversial aspects of Obamacare, its mandate to buy health insurance. The House bills, which I supported, delay the health insurance mandate for both individuals and businesses for one year while House lawmakers continue to work for a full repeal of Obamacare.

When campaigning for the passage of his so-called Affordable Care Act, President Obama promised it would live up to its name by providing Americans with affordable coverage while not denying them their choice of care. In the three years since the former Democrat-led Congress passed Obamacare into law, the record reflects a different story. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the average cost of family health care premiums has already risen by nearly 25 percent. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that as many as seven million Americans will lose their employer-provided health care. This figure is likely to rise.

For months, newspapers have sported headlines of small businesses and even local government plans to lay off full-time workers due to the looming costly mandates of Obamacare. The Birmingham News reported last week on a US Chamber of Commerce study revealing that half of the small businesses that will be required to provide insurance under Obamacare have already acknowledged plans "to cut employees' hours or replace full-time workers with part-timers."

Facing growing pressure from businesses, the Obama administration recently announced a delay in the health care coverage mandate for businesses with more than 50 full-time employees, but left ordinary working Americans to shoulder the new mandate or pay a fine. For starters, the White House does not have the legal authority to selectively apply portions of the health care law. Only Congress has that authority. Secondly, there is no fairness in picking winners and losers in whom should carry the burden of an expensive and unpopular health care law.

Last Wednesday, a majority of the House voted to delay the insurance coverage mandate for both individuals and businesses. I opposed Obamacare's passage and voted on May 16, 2013, to repeal it. Until we are able to eliminate Obamacare outright, the House will continue to pursue all options to protect Americans from skyrocketing premiums; from being forced to give up their choice of health coverage; and, seeing many lose their jobs due to Obamacare.

Correcting the Mistakes of 'No Child Left Behind'

Few things affect the future of a nation more than the quality of its public education system. Since 2001, America's classrooms have been subject to the supervision of the federal No Child Left Behind education act. It was enacted under President Bush to improve student achievement. However, the well-intentioned law has fallen far short of its goals while tying the hands of local schools to make the best decisions for their students. For example, No Child Left Behind's 'Adequate Yearly Progress' assessment applies a one-size-fits-all approach that stifles creativity and limits states' and school districts' ability to effectively judge and improve student learning.

The outdated 'Highly Qualified Teacher' requirements of No Child Left Behind place more emphasis on a teacher's tenure and credentials than on their ability to actually teach. What's more, despite strong federal funding for more than 80 federal programs, student achievement levels are still not making the grade.

As we have seen with Obamacare mentioned above, the administration has chosen to ignore the flaws in the law and prefers to simply offer states temporary waivers from some of No Child Left Behind's most unworkable provisions. Unfortunately, these waivers come attached to new Department of Education mandates.

It's time to eliminate wasteful and duplicative federal programs and grant states and local school districts the freedom to utilize the federal programs that best serve their students. Additionally, instead of focusing on a teacher's credentials, states and districts should be able to identify, recruit, and keep the teachers who have the most talent for improving student achievement.

The Student Success Act, which the House passed last week, and I supported, will restore local control, reduce the bureaucratic interference in the nation's classrooms, support more effective teachers, and empower parents. It would end the Department of Education's ability to coerce states into adopting Common Core, and it champions state flexibility over the path to a national curriculum. Most importantly, it would return authority for measuring student performance to states and school districts where it rightfully belongs.

My staff and I work for you. If we can ever be of service, do not hesitate to call my office toll free at 1-800-288-8721.

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