U.S. Rep. Massie defends digging in over defunding Affordable Care Act and upcoming debt ceiling fight

10/03/2013 07:14 PM

Republicans should not back off from defunding the Affordable Care Act as part of budget talks and shouldn’t accept a deal to raise the debt limit without spending cuts that balance the federal budget within four years, Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie said.

Massie, the 4th District congressman from Northern Kentucky, is among a core group of conservatives who don’t want to back off of a rider that defunds the Affordable Care Act and is attached to a continuing resolution to fund the government. Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, won’t accept any version of the measure that includes a rider to strip out funding for the health care measure.

Massie, who graduated from M.I.T., rejects the notion that the Affordable Care Act hasn’t had time to take hold and, thus, give lawmakers a chance to see what works and what doesn’t.

“What they’re finding out is the cost of the plan is tripling. So we don’t have to speculate about bad effects of Obamacare. They’re already happening. It’s going to be a train wreck when it kicks in,” Massie said.

Obama administration officials have said some people may see their health costs go up in the first year. But they have pointed to a provision that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of their revenue on covering people’s health care so that they couldn’t jack up the prices on consumers only to pocket the money as profit. Some people could get refunds at the end of the year if their insurance company doesn’t hit that 80 percent mark.

Massie also said he won’t budge on the forthcoming debate over the raising the debt ceiling, although he said he doesn’t think the the fight over the Affordable Care Act should be linked to that. Instead, he said he would only vote to raise the debt ceiling if it includes spending reforms that balance the budget. The U.S. Treasury is expected to run out of cash around Oct. 17 unless the limit is raised.

“I believe that it’s irresponsible to raise the debt limits until we have cuts or reforms or something that addresses this problem — that leads us to a balanced budget,” he said (5:45) adding that achieving that must happen within four years. “Anything that lasts eight or 10 years is unreasonable.”

The interview began with Massie answering a question about Thursday’s tactic of proposing five smaller continuing resolutions to fund certain parts of government, including the national parks. Democrats, again, rejecting the move saying that it was merely a way for Republicans to ease political pressure that they’ve put on themselves.

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