The make-believe crusade by publicity-hound Republicans to somehow stop Obamacare is one of the most cynical political exercises we’ve seen in many years. And that, my friends, is saying something.That is the opening paragraph of this Washington Post column in which the Pulitzer Prize winner takes apart those Republicans who are arguing for the GOP to somehow defund or otherwise stop the continuation of the President' signature domestic achievement.
As Robinson notes, the Affordable Care Act is already the law of the land, with many provisions already in force, and others soon to follow.
Which is why he notes
No matter how contemptuous they may be about Obamacare, opponents have only two viable options: Repeal it or get over it.Of course, absent a 2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate, the Republicans are unable to repeal it - the President would veto such an effort were it to take place, and that could only take place were the Republicans to gain control of the Senate after the 2014 election.
Ted Cruz seems to want any Continuing Resolution to fund the government beyond September 30 not to include any funding for enforcing of ACA. Robinson notes such an approach would neither get by the Senate nor in all likelihood survive a Conference Committee whose House members would be appointed by John Boehner, who remembers all too well what happened when a Republican House under Gingrich took a hard line approach. And even if somehow such a CR reached the desk of Barack Obama, he would surely veto it, and the Republicans would just as surely receive the blame, thus creating a real possibility for Democrats to regain control of the House.
Robinson describes the chances that Obama would sign such a CR as less than zero, and writes
To swallow the snake oil that Cruz and some other hard-right conservatives are peddling, you have to believe Obama is willing to nullify the biggest legislative accomplishment of his presidency.He is also similar dismissive of Jim DeMint's attempts to push a bill defunding Obamacare despite the fact that Obama would never sign such a bill, writing that
we also know that painting Obamacare as the end of America as we know it is an effective way for DeMint to rebrand Heritage , moving it away from mainstream Republican orthodoxy into tea party la-la land. Noisemaking and fundraising go hand in hand; this crazy exercise promises to be very bad for the GOP, but it might end up being very good for the Heritage Foundation’s coffers.OF course, as Robinson reminds us, ACA was actually originally proposed by Heritage, which makes the path that DeMint is following more than a little ironic.
If there is something missing from this otherwise good column, it is that Robinson does not address the alternative path to attempting to block "Obamacare" being seriously floated by the Republican leadership, the idea of tying it not to directly funding the government, but to raising the debt ceiling. While on paper that might seem more appealing, because after all Obama blinked once before on a debt ceiling resolution that was not a clean bill, and the Tea Party portion of the Republican caucus is strongly against increasing the national debt for any reason (except possible for tax cuts for the wealthy), such an approach would absolutely turn off most of the financial interests who fund a good deal of the Republican infrastructure: it would lead to another downgrading of the national credit rating, and would certainly destabilize financial markets. To assume the President would blink on this is, at least in my opinion, a very misguided assumption. The Democrats would be more than happy to take that issue to the American people in 2014.
Robinson closes his column with this paragraph:
The Republican majority in the House, though, is . . . what’s the word? Unpredictable? Uncontrollable? Unhinged? They pay little attention to wise political advice and less attention to their leader, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. And while they can’t lay a glove on Obamacare, they’re fully capable of knocking themselves out.It is not clear that Boehner is the leader of the caucus in anything except title. The most important power he has left is appointing members of relevant Conference Committees. He is attempting to do a balancing act of offering enough red meat to his Tea Party members to avoid an attempt to deprive him of his leadership, but it is not clear that even those next in line - Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy - will necessarily follow his lead.
One might assume that at some point rationality would intervene.
Given the vitriol openly and increasingly directed towards the President by various members of the Republican House Caucus, rationality may have left the House chamber some time ago.
"Obamacare" is not going to be defunded, because even if the government is shut down many of the provisions currently in effect continue on automatically.
Perhaps it is an odd thing for a teacher of government to young people to offer, but perhaps the best thing for the future of this country would be for the Republicans to make the attempt, either in a CR or in a debt ceiling bill, the Democrats to refuse to blink and the horrors that would occur as a result to be on full display for the American people to see. Perhaps then, perhaps only then, might there be a chance of getting our political processes back to some kind of rationality.
In the meantime, the Republican House Caucus, its Tea Party members, and the enablers elsewhere like Ted Cruz, Jim DeMint, the Koch brothers and others, will continue to provide fodder for columns by the likes of Paul Krugman, Eugene Robinson, and others.
Pass the popcorn.