Blame and a Government Shutdown

The House has voted to fund the government through the remainder of the year if Obamacare is delayed for one year. Despite the wrangling and punditry leading to this vote, everyone with a functional synapse in their brain knew this was going to happen. There now appears to be a post-vote resignation befalling all the pundits that a government shutdown is all but inevitable. Harry Reid has said quite point-blankly that the House measure is dead on arrival in the Senate. Even if passed by some strange turn of events, Obama has said he would veto the bill. He and the Democrats want the government funded through the continuing resolution and they want Obamacare to go into effect as planned.

As has been mentioned before, since 1976 there have been some 17 partial or full government shutdowns. They have lasted a total of 110 days in aggregate. The last was in 1996 under Clinton. That shutdown is said to have cost the Republicans politically as they and Newt Gingrich bore the brunt of the blame. There are differences between 1996 and today, however, that need to be mentioned. The first is the man at the top. Clinton, for all his shortcomings, was somewhat more amenable to compromise and negotiation. While many concede that in 1996 Clinton “won,” the battle also led to welfare reform and moved him to the right. With Obama, it would appear that is not likely. In fact, he has upfront stated he would veto any bill that is not “clean” and that he will not negotiate about this or the debt ceiling battle looming because the arguments now have not changed from the arguments “then.”

Second, unlike 1996, there is more resolve among the GOP to stick to their guns this time. Some have described this as being beholden to the Tea Party, but the Tea Party is simply a “sounding board” for a general view within the electorate against big government. Third, the 1996 shutdown was over differing criteria of defining economic growth with Congress preferring CBO estimates over the more favorable, optimistic OMB estimates which would suggest additional spending on Clinton’s pet projects. Of course, that is the short version of events. The differences were basically beyond the grasp of your average American in 1996 and it appeared as if the Republican leadership in Congress was arguing over some theoretical construct that people either did not understand, nor did not care about. This time, the differences are over Obamacare- a subject and law that touches each and every American and that, according to practically every poll, remains an unpopular law. In short, the negative effects of Obamacare are more real than the more theoretical arguments over the size and growth of government.

The compromise solution being offered up by the House is to delay Obamacare’s full implementation by a year. They also wrote into the CR a repeal of the $30 billion tax on medical devices which has some bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Unless I missed something, putting Congress under Obamacare’s mandates was not included- a suggestion that has wide support among the electorate that cuts across party and ideological lines.

The liberal and Democratic mantra is that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land- like it or not. They further that argument with if you don’t like the law, then elect people who will repeal it. It sounds great in theory, but in the practical sense, it is simply words. Fundamentally, for whatever reasons, this law remains unpopular with a majority of the American people and has been unpopular ever since enacted. Otherwise, you would not have a president and his administration in full campaign mode four years after the fact still trying to sell the law to the American public.

Further buttressing the solution of a one-year delay is the fact that the administration itself- possibly illegally- delayed the employer mandate, yet refuses to delay the individual mandate. Furthermore, there is incredible confusion in the public regarding these state exchanges which many states have either walked away from or have found it difficult to establish. Obama has simply dumbed down the conversation by equating buying insurance on an exchange as just like buying something on Amazon. Liberals are long on theory and short on the real world effects of those theories; it sounds great, but try actually doing it. As many are finding out, they are being offered less coverage for a higher premium. There are serious differences with respect to individual states with only a handful expected to see a decrease in premiums and that is because current premiums in those states are already high. It is ironic that a law entitled the Affordable Care Act is making health insurance less affordable for most. That is the simple fact that liberals and Obama cannot seem to wrap their small minds around.

Thus it would appear that the compromise- and it is a compromise(!)- being offered up by the House has the support of the American people. It has a real-world effect, unlike 1996. It affects more people than 1996. It is Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and Barack Obama who are being obstructionist here, not the GOP. Undoubtedly, we will hear, should no solution be reached come October 1st, that Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are to blame because they wasted valuable Senate time with a 21-hour speech. That was simply a sideshow which shined a light on the importance of the bad effects of Obamacare if implemented as is now.

The whole problem is best encapsulated by the Pelosi theorem: “We have to pass it first to find out what is in it.” What sane government operates under such a standard, especially after over a year of debate and hearings on the legislation? Perhaps if there was compromise then, there would be no need for compromise now, but that is lost history and better left to a future generation of pundits to ponder. The 113th Congress is faced with the reality of 2013 and the government’s attempt to re-order over 16% of the American economy. The law does allow for no discrimination regarding pre-existing conditions, allows kids to stay on a parent’s insurance, etc.- but, if I am remembering correctly, these are all things Republicans also agreed with when the law was debated and considered. Today, Obama is owning these ideas as his own which is like saying every American should be allowed to drink water.

And yes, the Supreme Court upheld the law on a loophole, but that no more entitles Obama to declare the law the correct solution to America’s health care problem. Supreme Court jurisprudence is rife with absolutely terrible and deleterious laws being upheld for a variety of reasons. The seal of approval from five Justices does not a good law make. And one has to ask why Obama is afraid of a one-year delay to sort out the facts, determine likely outcomes, tweak the law as needed, and move forward.

If framed simply as a delay and then working on the predicted horrors of Obamacare in the upcoming year (there are probably Democrats who secretly believe there are problems- they, after all, have constituents), then Republicans do not have to take the blame for a government shutdown. As this writer sees it, the House of Representatives has done their part and their part is a rather reasonable solution to the current “crisis.” The true obstruction and inability to compromise and, most importantly, listen to the American people lies at the feet of the Democratic-controlled Senate and the current occupant of the White House.