Let’s start with a reminder: Defunding Obamacare won’t stop Obamacare.
For President Obama’s signature legislative achievement to go away, both houses of Congress must pass a bill… that he agrees to sign. Or the president will have to refuse to enforce the law completely, using a tactic like the waivers for all 50 states that Mitt Romney promised during the campaign.
In short, to stop Obamacare, you need Obama’s help. And that’s never going to happen.
Ted Cruz (R-TX) — with some help from Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) — has been lying to the GOP base for months, saying that a grassroots “tsunami” could convince Republican leaders to shut down the government or default on our debt for so long that the president will give in and abandon the law that now bears his name… a law he likely considers the greatest accomplishment of his presidency.
Cruz hasn’t triggered a tidal wave. His repeal effort is far less popular than Obamacare — but it’s extremely popular with the one group that matters most to House Republicans: primary voters.
Thus this suicide pact has become one hell of a fundraising scheme.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein describes the GOP’s predicament in two sentences: “It would be a disaster for the party to shut down the government over Obamacare. But it’s good for every individual Republican politician to support shutting down the government over Obamacare.”
That’s why House Republicans — with less than two weeks to go before a potential government shutdown — are embracing Cruz’s tactics completely.
House GOP leaving meeting say plan is CR w permanent defunding of Obamacare, “backup plan” of one-year Obamacare delay in debt limit deal
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) September 18, 2013
Well, not every individual Republican is pretending to buy into Cruz’s plot. Some rational Republicans — or the “surrender caucus,” as Cruz calls them — see that the plan is doomed and are saying so. Here are five Republicans who are calling BS on Ted Cruz’s very profitable “Defund Obamacare” gambit.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com
A friend of Barack Obama’s from their Senate days, Tom Coburn (R-OK) has indulged in talk about impeaching the president.
But even he thinks Cruz and Lee’s plan could destroy the Republican Party.
“It’s a denial of reality mixed with a whole bunch of hype to promote groups and individuals who are saying, ‘I’m going to give you hope’ for something that we can’t do,” Coburn said. “The underlying premise is intellectually dishonest. … Creating false expectations and being less than honest about how you’re going to do this is the worst of politics.”
He even requested a memorandum from the Congressional Research Service about whether defunding the law would stop Obamacare. It won’t.
Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr.com
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) used to be one of the Tea Party’s favorite people. Now they’re attacking him as a traitor because he won’t support defunding for one simple reason: It won’t work.
“Those who are pushing this proposal are telling people that it’s going to defund Obamacare, and it just won’t,” Flake said. “If you want to know why we’re in such low regard with the country, it’s that they don’t believe us when we tell them something.”
Columnist Charles Krauthammer pretty much loves everything the Republican Party does. But the Iraq War proponent and Fox News contributor doesn’t buy into Cruz’s plan.
“It would be over a cliff for the GOP,” Krauthammer said on Inside Washington. “I admire the sincerity and the passion of those who don’t want to pass the budget unless you get rid of Obamacare, but it is utterly impossible in the real world. And the only thing it will do is to undo all the gains the Republicans have made over the past year, and undo their very real chances of having great successes next year.”
Photo: Screenshot via Raw Story and Inside Washington
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had long feared a primary challenger. Now that he has several, he’s able to have a little fun, calling for a war in Syria and pointing out that Senate Republicans who think they can defund Obamacare have no idea what they’re talking about.
“That’s a technical thing,” Graham joked when asked if anyone has told Cruz or Lee that their plan wouldn’t actually defund Obamacare.
Graham knows that what his fellow senators are proposing won’t result in anything but trouble for his party.
“I wanna defund Obamacare,” he said. “I just don’t wanna cut off Social Security checks and stop paying the military.”
It’s hard to tell if Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is good or terrible at his job.
He’s avoided government shutdowns and used debt limit extortion to get cuts to the government, all while wrangling with a caucus filled with members who want to be the next Ted Cruz.
Boehner’s plan to bring a bill that defunds Obamacare to the House floor, and then send it to the Senate if passed, could be seen as a capitulation to Cruz. But it’s also a “put up or shut up” tactic. If — and it is an if — the House can pass the bill, Cruz has to get it through the Senate. He won’t. Then they’ll have to go to plan B, which appears to be a one-year delay of the law’s subsidies and tax increases — which would increase the deficit, by the way. When that fails, the Speaker will have to do what he’s done for the past few years: figure out how to trick his members into keeping the government open.
The good news for the GOP is that even though they won’t be able to stop Obamacare, they’ll still be able to deprive nine million working Americans of health insurance that their states will be paying for anyway!
Photo: Medill DC via Flickr.com