Duncan on Obamacare, shutdown

The Journal Online

UpstateToday.com

By Mikayla Kreuzberger

U.S. Congressman Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, made it clear Wednesday he is fully for funding government programs at current spending levels through December — as long as Obamacare is out.


Duncan spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon about his feelings toward Obamacare and how he would do what he could to stop or delay the Affordable Healthcare Act as long as possible — even if it means having to shut down the government come Tuesday if the Senate cannot agree on a $986 billion continued resolution to fund the coming months. The day also marks when the health care overhaul’s season of enrollment begins for millions seeking coverage on so-called insurance exchanges.


On Wednesday, the Senate advanced legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown, the 100-0 vote certain to mark merely a brief pause in a fierce partisan struggle over the future of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. The vote came shortly after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz held the Senate in session overnight with a near-22-hour speech meant to propel fellow Republican lawmakers into an all-out struggle to extinguish the law.


“We have been contacted by a lot of people across the district who really believe Obamacare is damaging the American economy,” Duncan said. “We saw in mid-July that our second largest insurer, Medical Mutual of Ohio, that insured 28,000 people, left because of the Affordable Care Act.


“We’re also seeing the 40-hour work week changing to be under the 30-hour threshold. Families are now having to take up second jobs just to make up the difference in wages from 40 to 29 hours. It’s time away from families, which I have a problem with. Small businesses are choosing not to expand. It’s bad for the economy, and it’s bad for job creators.”


The resolution, Duncan said, in addition to shutting down Obamacare, also prioritizes spending to ensure Social Security recipients and the military continue to get checks despite a possible government shutdown.


“I believe Obamacare has shut down America, so I’d rather shut down the government than continue doing what we’re doing, which is penalizing businesses and families in this country,” he told media. “Senate could change some things on the CR; there are things they could do to make the CR a little more palatable instead of stripping it. I want to make some real changes to the things that are requiring us to borrow money — Obamacare is one of those things — and I encourage my allies to vote (against it).”


Although he did not commit one way or another, Duncan did say the DeSantis bill, proposed by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida — which would stop government staff and lawmakers from receiving special taxpayer subsidies to help pay for Obamacare premiums in new healthcare exchanges — is the kind of response that would allow for forward movement in Congress. Duncan is a co-signer of the DeSantis bill, which is similar to the Vitter amendment that could possibly stop Obamacare exemptions and loopholes for high-up government officials.


“If the Vitter amendment or the DeSantis Amendment idea is offered as part of the CR, we’ll take a look at it and see if its something I can vote on. I haven’t really thought that far down the road,” he said. “(But) … I think we should have to live under the same laws the average American has to live under.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.