At midnight on October 1st, the federal government shut down due to a lapse in appropriations. I’ve heard from hundreds of South Dakotans about the shutdown and have heard from hundreds who support the effort underway to protect people from the damaging effects of Obamacare. I want to take this opportunity to share some insight into where I stand and to let you know what I’ve been doing to try to resolve this issue.
I was not in favor of shutting down the government and I want to see it get reopened as soon as possible. In the past, government funding bills have always included negotiations on reforms that can be put into place. That is why it is so surprising that the President and the Senate are refusing to negotiate. I have voted four times in the past week to keep the government open while also asking that no one get special treatment under Obamacare – which is something I’ve heard repeatedly from South Dakotans who have contacted me and asked for.
One of the most recent bills I voted for would have kept the government open while also delaying the individual mandate in Obamacare for one year. This mandate requires all individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a tax. President Obama previously decided to give big businesses a delay from this requirement, so why should we treat individuals and families any differently? I believe it is only fair that big businesses and the people of South Dakota be treated the same under Obamacare.
All of these attempts to fund the government while providing fairness from Obamacare have been rejected out of hand by the Senate Majority Leader. In response, I supported an attempt to convene a formal conference committee so the House and the Senate could meet and work out our differences. Unfortunately, our request for negotiation was rejected.
Our country’s spending problems are simply unsustainable. The federal government goes $4 billion into debt every day. With the debt we have accumulated in the past year we could have fully funded the state of South Dakota’s budget for nearly 200 years. We cannot continue to borrow money from China to fund our federal government today and expect our children and grandchildren to pick up the tab. That’s why the President’s insistence that we continue to do so and stick with the status quo is so shocking.
Obamacare is a law that too many people don’t want and our country can’t afford. It is filled with nothing but broken promises. In fact a recent Manhattan Institute study shows that young males in South Dakota will see a 145 percent increase in their premiums because of Obamacare. A 64-year-old female in South Dakota will see her premiums increase by over 93 percent, according to the same study.
While I would prefer to see the law completely repealed and defunded, I have been and remain willing to find common ground with Senate Democrats. I am hopeful that the President will begin to start productive conversations with Congress that will keep our country strong and safe. They just need to be willing to come to the table and talk.
In the meantime, I have been supporting targeted funding bills that would allow our government to continue doing things like pay our troops, operate national parks, continue children’s cancer research, and take care of veterans. These basic functions of government are not controversial. There’s no reason we shouldn’t fund them immediately.
Please know that I will continue working to resolve this problem. In the meantime, I hope I continue hearing from you. I appreciate hearing your stories and receiving your feedback.