By Alan Caruba
Congress is going on vacation in August and the President will be taking another one in Martha’s Vineyard where the very rich and the extremely rich pass a summer’s day. When both return they will have until September 30 to pass a continuing resolution; the way the government has been funded for many years.
On the table will be the need to raise the debt ceiling to allow the U.S. to borrow enough money to pay off the largest debt in U.S. history. In his first term, Obama borrowed more than all preceding Presidents combined. His “stimulus” package didn’t work and neither has anything else that might pass for an economic policy. The nation has been stuck in a rut of very low, inadequate growth for five years during which Obama spent the first four blaming George W. Bush and the last year blaming the Republicans.
Looming ahead to further exacerbate the nation’s economic decline is the implementation of Obamacare. Nobody seems to like it much. Major unions have written Obama, telling him to “fix” it and hardly a day goes by that we don’t learn some new horrid thing about it. Nearly half the states refused to set up the insurance exchanges it requires. By nearly everyone’s assessment, it is unworkable.
How bad is Obamacare? As far back as 2009 the Democrats in Congress tried to get themselves and their staffs exempted from it.
There is a debate raging among Republicans over whether to defund Obamacare as a way of avoiding its full implementation and driving a stake through its heart until it can be repealed. The White House is, as usual, lying to the public, saying this would “shut down” the government. It would not. The only services that would be affected would be those deemed “non-essential.”
Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, has maintained that repeal of Obamacare is the only solution. It is not the only answer. Defunding its implementation has been an option since it was signed into law. Boehner (R-OH) has been sharply criticized for not putting this option before the House. Now there’s a momentum growing in both the House and Senate to defund Obamacare.
“Republicans in the Senate and Republicans in the House need to stand on this issue, need to refuse to budge,” says Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), “because we will be complicit in Obamacare…if we provide funding for the administration to do that.” Defunding would be a victory for the Tea Party movement that was instrumental in electing Senators Ted Cruz (R-Cruz), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others.
Leading the effort to defund Obamacare, the Heritage Foundation reports that it is closing in on securing enough co-sponsors of the Defunding Obamacare Act of 2013 to achieve “critical mass in the House”, but notes that “the Washington Establishment is more interested in striking a deal with President Obama on immigration, taxes, and spending than fighting to defund Obamacare.”
The House, which has passed any number of bills to repeal Obamacare at this point, controls the “purse strings” because all laws involving spending can only be initiated there. The bills, however, never go farther than the House.
Obama knows that the last thing Republicans on Capitol Hill want is to be blamed for causing the government to “shut down.” Political pundits recall that when it happened in 1995 everyone blamed then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and the GOP, but what they don’t remember is that, in 1996, the party picked up seats in the Senate and continued its control of the House. That could be a 2014 scenario, but these are different times with different players involved.
The problem the Republican Party has, in addition to a whole bunch of very squishy members in Congress, is a media that will defend Obama and Obamacare by framing the situation as one of intransigence and a blind desire to punish the President who bested them in 2012 by getting reelected.
The bigger problem, however, is Obamacare.
In my opinion, the Republicans in the House will likely not vote to defund it because they are looking ahead to the 2014 midterm elections. It is easier to fuss about the debt ceiling, get a few spending cuts, and use Obamacare as an issue to secure political control of Congress next year. Only then would the GOP be in a position to repeal Obamacare. To politicians on Capitol Hill, it is a less scary scenario. I would never bet on the courage of politicians.
One possible outcome for Obamacare would be something comparable to the fate of Prohibition, the national ban on the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol that was the law of the land from 1920 to 1933. It was enacted by the 18th Amendment and repealed by the 21st due to its unpopularity. It too was unworkable.
The only thing we know for sure about Obamacare is that it will ruin the best healthcare system in the world and it will end up killing people.
© Alan Caruba, 2013