Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart was always in favor of defunding, delaying and degrading Obamacare.
But on Monday night, he joined 11 other Republicans to oppose the budget plan targeting Obamacare for a simple reason: It wasn’t going to work, and the government was about to go into partial shutdown.
“I’ve voted against Obamacare 42 times,” Diaz-Balart said.
“When they brought the idea of defunding Obamacare, House Republicans were told we could get Democratic votes. So I voted for it. But it didn’t happen,” he said. “Then we tried again. And it didn’t work. The third time, it was like: Look, this isn’t working. Let’s try something else.”
Diaz-Balart said it made sense because it was a budget item and because, if the Senate rejected the measure, the continuing resolution (the so-called “CR”) to fund government was already a win for Republicans because the Senate had agreed to the lower-level of spending the House wanted. Then, during budget talks, the cut-the-IRS plan could have been tried again.
“The untold story is the Senate went 100 percent to our level of spending. Usually, if someone comes 70 percent your way, that’s a pretty darn good victory,” he said. “The Senate went 100 percent to our level of spending in the CR.”
So, before the second CR vote in the House, Diaz-Balart said he wanted to attach a funding measure approved by the House’s financial services budget subcommittee, on which he sat and which had already been approved and marked up in the House.
“In that bill, we cut the IRS 24 percent. Why do we do that? We would be able to demonstrate rampant waste. They’re targeting people, but it’s wasteful, borderline criminal,” he said.
“Let’s have the debate about whether or not the president and the Democrats want to shut down the government to fund the IRS. That’s a very good issue…. To put it in perspective, the IRS has more people working for them than the Coast Guard does, by the thousands.”
But, Diaz-Balart said, the plan obviously went nowhere. And while 12 Republicans opposed the House’s third attempt to undermine Obamacare, nine Democrats crossed party lines and voted for the House plan.
“The strategy we were on wasn’t working. I’m a firm believer in the idea that when your strategy doesn’t work, you try something else,” he said. Under his plan, even if the CR was stripped "clean," the House could have blocked a major part of Obamacare during budget talks.
So should the House bring a so-called “clean” bill to the floor now?
“I think we’re beyond that,” he said, though he indicated he would vote for one now, provided it had the same level of spending reductions.
But why should the president and Democrats agree to change a law that was passed, upheld by the Supreme Court and also was part of the 2012 elections that Obama won?
“Here’s the problem: to be a leader, you have to lead by example,” Diaz-Balart said. “On one side, the president is saying ‘I’m not going to change anything.’ And at the same time, what has he done? He has delayed a dozen parts of Obamacare.”
Diaz-Balart drew an analogy between the way the president approaches Obamacare and the way he dealt with Syria, when Obama said the use of chemical weapons would be crossing a “red line” that would provoke action.
“The president has a problem with his red lines,” Diaz-Balart said. “He continues to do these red lines, and then he continues to violate or to ignore them or the fact he establishes them – including Obamacare. He said he’s not going to change anything, he’s not going to negotiate, but then he postpones or changes things to help certain individuals or groups.”