IR: The labor markets are reacting to Obamacare. We’ve seen data about job creation for the past few months; part-time employment is increasing, full-time employment positions are in many cases decreasing. You predicted this over a year ago, and now it’s starting to happen. What are Idahoans to do to protect themselves from the effects of Obamacare on the markets, generally, and even from the state insurance exchange?
Labrador: Idahoans need to become informed, but they need to talk to their legislators in the state Legislature. But now we have too many businesses realizing that Obamacare is going to cost them money, so they’re either not hiring people because they don’t want to go above the 50-employee threshold, or they’re turning full timers in to part-time employees because they don’t want to be subject to the dictates of Obamacare. So we’re finding a lot of unemployment, and under-employment
The costs of this Obamacare health care bill are much more than we were told it would be. Now people are finding out that they have insurance deductibles both for their health ailments and for their prescription medications, for example. So all these things that were promised by the president and by Democrats, we were actually going to have a lower cost of health care, and a lower cost to our insurance, it’s actually not coming true. We’re finding out that it is not going to come to pass and, in fact, these things are now more expensive. We predicted this (congressional Republicans), and now it’s happening.
IR: The promise of the Idaho Obamacare insurance exchange was that it would be a state-based exchange, our data would be protected and that the exchange would keep Idaho health insurance costs low. Yet ever since the passage of the legislation to create the exchange, it has been a steady march toward the exchange becoming a federally controlled operation. What are your thoughts on this? Idahoans are not required to use the exchange, but should they use it? Or should they stay clear of it?
Labrador: I don’t know enough about the Idaho insurance exchange yet to figure out what’s going to happen with it. I can tell you, however, that it was not going to be a state-controlled exchange. That’s the argument I’ve always had. If Idaho was truly controlling the exchange, if we were actually writing the regulations for it, I would trust Idahoans obviously more than I would trust the federal government to do something like that. But the problem is that the state insurance exchange has to be within the dictates of the federal regulations.
I was with the editorial board of the Idaho Statesman recently and the people there were saying “but don’t we have a history in Idaho of lower costs for health care?” And I said, absolutely, we have always had lower costs, but that’s because we’ve always had less regulation. But now we’re no longer living under the Idaho health care regulatory body, we’re living under the federal health care regulatory body. And guess what? That makes our health care more expensive and now we in Idaho have become mere administrators of federal health care mandates. And I don’t think that’s a good idea for us to do that. The promises that the president made about Obamacare are not coming true, and they never were true.
IR: So do Idahoans need to prepare for things to get worse before they get better?
Labrador: That’s one way of saying it, I suppose. We just need to realize that the cost of health care is not going to go down, it’s going to go up. And access to health care, that was a big selling point with the president that access to health care will increase. It will not. Idahoans need to understand this.
IR: Tell us what you are hearing from your constituents about domestic spying concerns and what are your thoughts on the matter?
Labrador: It’s pretty scary if you look at what the IRS is doing with our taxes and now they’re going to have control of our medical information. Now we have a new financial services office (CFPB) that’s going to have all this information about our finances. We hear about the NSA and how they’ve been tracking everybody’s phone numbers and phone calls, and more and more we learn that the government is taking too much control of our lives. We start to think if “1984” was just a work of fiction, or if it’s something that is coming to a reality. We need to be concerned. And it’s a bipartisan group in the House that is concerned about what the NSA is doing, and hopefully soon we’ll have a bipartisan group concerned about what the IRS is doing.
IR: A bipartisan group in the House of Representatives said “it’s not OK” for the NSA to spy on the citizenry and thus sought to defund the spying program (an amendment to defund the domestic spying program failed in the House on July 24, 2013, by a vote of 217-205). Yet a majority in the House said “no, it is OK” and the defunding legislation failed. How can Americans change that?
Labrador: Actually they didn’t say that. I think it was actually good news that we had that vote, and I think it was good news that it was that close. A lot of the people who voted against it were convinced by the House leadership that this was not the appropriate vote, because this was a funding bill on all our intelligence and foreign operations. I think when we come back from the summer recess, we’re going to have votes on actual legislation that will limit what the NSA can do. When we have a vote on a clean bill, I think you’ll see a majority of members of the U.S. House of Representatives voting for it. Even the president, who said we didn’t need to do anything about the NSA, he is now saying that we do need to do something about the NSA. So I think you’ll see some of these efforts come to fruition when we come back after the summer.
IR: You think that even the president of the United States is feeling pressure to “correct ship,” so to speak?
Labrador: I think the president and the leadership of the Congress is realizing that we can’t just ignore this. I think when the American people began to learn what the IRS was doing to people with their tax information, people began to imagine what the government can do with information that they’ve gathered in secret.