- - Friday, January 7, 2011

Forty-six. Twelve. Four. I hope to tattoo those numbers right onto the brain of every Republican member of Congress. 46-12-4. If that sounds like a launch code or a countdown, that’s because in some ways it is. 46-12-4 is a warning that Americans are increasingly losing their patience with Washington and won’t wait long to remove members of Congress from either party who go astray.

American voters managed to tolerate the Democrats’ reign in the House of Representatives for 46 years from the “Dewey Defeats Truman” upset of 1948to Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution of 1994. Voters were only able to stomach that spendthrift crop of Republicans for 12 years before pulling the plug on them in 2006. A mere four years later, increasingly frustrated voters wasted little time before ousting the subsequent Democratic replacements in the shellacking of the young century when in November they unceremoniously yanked that oversized gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hand. 46-12-4. The accelerating pattern of voter frustration is unmistakable, and my fellow Republicans should not get too cozy with the new power they’ve been granted.

Republicans won this year’s historic landslide election primarily by virtue of not being Democrats. The year of the Tea Party was 2010, and the GOP is the beneficiary - for now. It’s not often that fate - or, in this case, the Tea Party - grants you a second chance for a rendezvous with history. Now is the time to earn it.

Obamacare has become ground zero in the fight for America’s future. It is a struggle, as Mark Levin would say, between liberty and tyranny, between self-determination and central control. It is a crossroads for our nation. Will the grand experiment of self-governance survive, or will we be the first generation of Americans to surrender ourselves as wards of the state in a second-class, European-style social welfare system?

The clock is ticking: 46-12-4. …

A growing majority of Americans, approaching a margin of 2-to-1, agree that Obamacare must be repealed. What’s more, a majority of Americans think it will be repealed. Expectations are high, and the stakes are even higher. But we all know it won’t happen while President Obama is still in the White House. Democrats are counting on this entitlement program to do just what all entitlement programs do: grow. Once the would-be wards of the state become addicted to the wealth-redistribution goodies of Obamacare, it’s game over. This entitlement program will be as ingrained as those before it but at a substantially higher cost. And, as dramatic as it sounds, our American way of life will end as we know it. We must do everything we can to delay implementation of Obamacare so that in January 2013, our new president and Congress can finally undo this unholy government expansion.

This demands a no-holds-barred, all-of-the-above strategy that deploys every legal and ethical tool available to Congress and to the states to delay implementation of Obamacare. The presidential contenders should get involved, and so should every patriotic citizen.

Congress should defund every single provision it can. Defeating the Senate’s lame-duck omnibus bill with its billion-dollar wet kiss to Obamacare was a great first step. Don’t stop there. Congress also should unleash its subpoena power so that congressional hearings finally will force the transparency upon this administration that it once promised. Make it defend its unkeepable promises. The growing deficits. The increasing insurance premiums. The waivers. The rationing. The death panels. The new taxes. The worsening doctor shortage. Make Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defend suppressing unfavorable information on the eve of the health care vote. Make Dr. Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, defend his wild statements favoring health care rationing and opposing the primacy of the doctor-patient relationship. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. After these hearings, Obamacare supporters will wish they only faced the 2-to-1 opinion polls they do now.

A word of caution here: America is not clamoring for Obamacare Lite. Congressional Republicans should not fall for the Democrats’ trap of tinkering around the edges of Obamacare because doing so accepts the underlying fundamental flaw that the government takeover of the health care system is acceptable. After all, even Mr. Obama wants to fiddle around with removing unpopular provisions, such as the 1099 rule that forces ordinary Americans to become tax snitches for the state. Don’t fall for it. Make them lie in the bed they made. Improving the cosmetics of Obamacare will only encourage weak-kneed Republicans in name only to bolt.

The states should make every possible effort to delay, nullify and push back Obamacare. Join the lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. Apply for waivers. File lawsuits when denied. Delay and even refuse to implement the new budget-breaking Medicaid requirements. Presidential candidates should make it unambiguously clear that a vote for Mr. Obama is a vote for Obamacare, but a vote for them is a vote for repeal. And every patriot should be certain that his federal and state representatives know our expectations are for us in the fight.

Now is not the time to go wobbly. The estimable Charles Krauthammer recently and surprisingly advised against defunding Obamacare because it would give the Democrats ammunition to blame Republicans for its downfall. Did he miss the past decade? Democrats will blame Republicans anyway. That misguided fear is no reason to allow the unimpeded spread of Obamacare. Democrats rarely let reality get in the way of their blaming Republicans for everything from hurricanes to AIDS. And every time a Republican tries to gain favor with Democrats, somewhere somebody’s taxes are going up. Besides, it’s too late anyway. Republicans crossed that Rubicon when they killed the Senate’s Obamacare-friendly omnibus bill. There’s no turning back now, so buck up.

Far more important, Republicans should be seeking approval not from the Democratic Party, but from the Tea Party. 46-12-4. The Tea Partyers brought this new crop of Republicans into this political world, and they can take them out. If the Republicans lack the courage to face the Democrats head-on, if they betray the Tea Partyers and the majority of Americans by allowing the unimpeded implementation of Obamacare, they will quickly find themselves occupying third place in a two-party system.

46-12-4 …

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a practicing radiologist in Kansas and a cousin of President Obama‘s. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.