Defunding Obamacare: Suicide Pact Or Professional Wrestling?
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is making the GOP base an offer they cannot resist.
“If we can get 41 Republicans in the Senate to stand together, or 218 Republicans in the House to stand together, we can successfully defund Obamacare on September 30,” the junior senator from Texas keeps saying over and over, with his message being amplified by his pals in the Heritage Foundation.
With just 41 senators we can overturn the signature achievement of a president who was just re-elected by five million votes!
It’s factually inaccurate, of course.
All 41 Republicans can do is prevent the Senate from passing a continuing resolution to keep the government open. This would trigger a government shutdown and at least a slight case of post-traumatic stress disorder for those who remember how the shutdowns during the 1990s ended up in big wins for President Clinton.
The worst part about Cruz’s campaign is that it’s a win/win for Cruz, who knows he’s going to lose, explains The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York:
They know they won’t succeed. Democrats, with 54 votes, have enough to pass anything that requires a simple majority, and won’t have much trouble getting to a filibuster-proof 60 votes, either. “I could count six or seven Republicans who would vote for full funding of the continuing resolution without breaking a sweat,” says one Senate aide who supports defunding. “So they’re going to get to 60.”
But that’s just the discretionary part of Obamacare. The far bigger portions of the program, including the billions and billions of dollars in subsidies that will start going to Americans on Jan. 1, are mandatory spending, an entitlement funded by an automatic appropriation which is written into law and runs without further congressional action. To change that, Congress would have to change Obamacare.
In the Senate, that would take 67 votes — the amount needed to overcome a guaranteed presidential veto. If the 46 Senate Republicans voted unanimously to end the Obamacare entitlement, they would have to persuade 21 Democrats to go along.
Freedomwork’s Dean Clancy objects to this argument and says that defunding could simply be added to a continuing resolution, which would only need to pass the Senate, likely with 60 votes.
This is why Oklahoma’s Republican senator, Tom Coburn, has dismissed the ploy as “dishonest” and “hype.” Republican pundits like Ramesh Ponnuru have broken down why the strategy/suicide pact would fail.
But Cruz doesn’t care. He wins either way.
If he somehow gets Republicans to go along with him, he’s a hero to the base even if when it eventually fails it costs Republicans seats in Congress — the good fight is always worth it! If Republicans refuse to indulge him, he sets himself apart as the Tea Partier of all Tea Partiers, positioning himself for 2016 as the hero of the far right.
Republicans have created a vacuum with what The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent and MSNBC’s Steve Benen call “sabotage governing.” The party’s “anarchists,” as New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait calls them, have no interest in doing anything that gives the appearance of legitimizing the president. Thus whoever can make the most noise and create the most storylines to star in, wins.
Republican politics is now professional wrestling, with the only real damage being done to working people who are suffering because their elected officials refuse to govern.
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Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com