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SHUTDOWN THE GOVERNMENT! SHUT IT DOWN! WE HAVE TO STOP OBAMACARE SHUT IT DOWN!!!!!

This is the rallying cry for the right, unfortunately shutting the government down won't stop the implementation or even the funding of Obamacare. The only way to stop any funding for Obamacare is passing a law in both houses and having the President sign it into law. Obamacare aka The Affordable Care Act, which falls under the guidance of the Health and Human Services Department is considered involving the safety of human life this makes it essential to the operation of the country and therefore can not be affected by a shutdown.

From Salon

Part of the reason a shutdown wouldn’t stop the health care law is that government doesn’t grind to a halt. National defense, law enforcement, air traffic control and other activities involving the safety of human life and the protection of property continue.
Ditto for big entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, whose “mandatory” funding does not have to be renewed annually by Congress. The Affordable Care Act is the newest addition to that club of budget heavyweights.
 The employees who administer such programs may also be considered essential. During the Clinton-era shutdowns, Social Security brought back nearly 50,000 employees to handle claims work after initially giving them furloughs.
No Obamacare also won't be defunded through a shutdown. I want to make this very clear. The only way Obamacare can be defunded is by passing a law in both chambers and having it signed into law by the President of the United States, or over riding a veto by 2/3rd of the House.

There is a reason for this. The way budgeted programs and laws are funded. There are basically three types of spending applications for the US government -- discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and net interest.

Net interest deals with the debt and has nothing to do with this conversation.

Ok, bare with me, this is where this piece gets a little wonky...

Discretionary spending is optional as part of fiscal policy, in contrast to entitlement programs for which funding is mandatory. Basically discretionary spending, which is spending that is not specified by a law passed by Congress and signed by the President is optional and subject to the particular likings of Congress. There are major entitlement programs Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and you can add Obamacare to that list now that are considered mandatory spending. There are other smaller mandatory spending programs like SNAP, TANF but these programs account for a small portion of mandatory spending. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare account for about 70% of all mandatory spending. Mandatory spending is spending enacted by law, but not dependent on an annual or periodic appropriation bill.

This is significant because the passage of the law itself provides that this program is fully funded regardless of the budget agenda of a particular Congress. For example federal judicial pay is considered mandatory spending. This to protect these programs, typically programs that are direct transfers of funds (pay, welfare, unemployment insurance, medicare, Obamacare, etc.) from the whims of Congress.  So right wingers tweeting me in all caps, no a shutdown won't stop Obamacare's implementation because it is considered involving the safety of human life and it won't be defunded because Obamacare funding, like federal judicial pay, is considered mandatory spending not subject to annual renewal and appropriations of Congress. Its source of funding is derived from the law enactment itself not from an appropriations process.

Senator Ted Cruz attempted to use the continuing resolution (a law passed by Congress) to defund Obamacare. How that works is Cruz would attach what is called a "rider" to the CR that defunds all of Obamacare. This rider was striped in the Senate. This is also why Congress had to pass the sequester. The only way to affect levels of funding in mandatory spending programs is to pass laws in Congress and have them signed by the President specifically outlining the changes. Of course none of this is a secret Ted Cruz could have just asked the Congressional Research Council.

This was cross posted on The Political Line

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