Obamacare, government shutdown, debt ceiling: Myths and facts

Obamacare, a government shutdown, and the debt ceiling are three separate discussions. Here are the myths and facts on each. Photo: AP

LOS ANGELES, October 1, 2013 — Between Obamacare, a government shutdown, and the debt ceiling, new jobs are being created for fact-checkers. The hyperbole train has careened off the track. Away from political wars, it is necessary to separate myths from facts regarding what is actually three separate discussions.


Obamacare costs less than expected.

Technically true, but misleading. Costs drastically increase, just less than government projections. Lower projected increases are not cost decreases, just as slowing spending growth rates are not actual spending cuts.

Defunding Obamacare shuts down government.

False. Congressional Republicans sent President Obama a bill to fund the entire government except Obamacare. For ideological reasons, he chose a government shutdown over defunding Obamacare. He has broad latitude regards governmental operations.

SEE RELATED: House and Senate play chicken with government shutdown

Obamacare is the law of the land, ruled Constitutional.

True, but meaningless. Prohibition was the 18th Constitutional Amendment, repealed by the 21st Amendment. Laws can be repealed.


Congress must appropriate money for bills they pass.

Not true. The appropriations process is messy. Nothing legally binds funding, defunding, or partially funding anything.

Congress is only being asked to fund laws they already agreed to by passing them.

Technically not true. Republicans funded the Iraq War. When Democrats took Congress in 2007, Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened to defund the war. She backed down when public opinion rejected her, but she was not bound by what previous Congresses did.

Congressional Democrats in 2010 passed Obamacare. Then Republicans took Congress in 2011 and had zero obligation to stay the course. Policies get reversed by presidents and judges when new individuals with differing ideologies take over. Congress is no different.

Shutting down the government means America defaults on its obligations.

Absolutely false. That is a debt ceiling discussion, a totally separate unrelated issue.

Congress passes continuing resolutions rather than an annual budget.

Partially true, partially false. When Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, this was true. Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not enact a budget. They feared before the 2010 election that open transparent accounting of budget items would subject them to voter criticisms. When Republicans won the House, Speaker John Boehner had a budget passed every year. Senate Leader Reid still did not.


Default is Armageddon.

Absolutely true. If America defaults on its debt obligations, there could be worldwide panic. America has never missed a debt payment. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency solely because it is 100 percent safe. Default must not happen under any circumstances.

Raising the debt ceiling does not mean more debt.

Theoretically true, but ludicrous in reality. Raising the ceiling does not automatically increase spending, but every single ceiling raise saw more spending. The idea that any president would ask for more credit without needing or using it defies history and common sense.

Refusing to raise the debt ceiling means default.

Absolutely false. Limiting the debt ceiling forces Obama to make painful budgetary choices. He could slash social, other domestic, or military spending, or default on debts. His programs such as Obamacare added $6 trillion in new debt. He could repeal that. Default would be his decision.

The deficit is falling.

Technically true, but misleading.

The sequester temporarily reduced the deficit. Obama wants to repeal it. The sequester contains no actual spending cuts, only reduced increases in growth. Additionally, falling deficits do not mean reductions in actual debt. Debt is still increasing, only at a slower rate.

No president would ever let America default.

False. President Obama has practiced “no pain” (for Americans), “no gain” (politically for himself). He used the sequester to close White House tours. The strategy backfired politically, but the precedent was set.

Obamacare is his prized program representing his deepest ideological beliefs. Default would hurt the world. Repealing Obamacare would hurt him. If he thought Republicans would be blamed for global collapse, he may allow default. On his watch, America’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever. He still won reelection. Nothing in his political DNA suggests he would scale back Obamacare rather than allow a catastrophic but possibly politically beneficial default.

Refusing to raise the debt ceiling is irresponsible.

Not true. Continuing to spend money until America is broke would be irresponsible. In the long run, the house of cards that is the global financial system will collapse if spending is not reined in. No individual, business or government can spend more money than it collects without eventually having their line of credit cut off. Delaying painful choices makes the inevitable reckoning worse.

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Eric Golub

Eric Golub is a politically conservative Jewish blogger, author, public speaker, and comedian. His book trilogy is “Ideological Bigotry,” “Ideological Violence,” and  “Ideological Idiocy.” 

He is Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1990. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Judaism, and his MBA from USC. A stockbrokerage professional since 1994, he began blogging on March 11th, 2007, the three year anniversary of the Madrid bombings and the midpoint of 9/11. He has been inflicting his world view on his unfortunate readers since then. He blogs about politics Monday through Friday, and about football and other human interest items on weekends.



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