Consider this a companion piece to “Fighting the good fight against ObamaCare.” A few correspondents pointed out that bills to defund or delay ObamaCare are not likely to get past the Senate, and there’s no way President Obama will sign them. That’s a fair point… but it’s not a reason to give up without even trying.
On the contrary, it’s vitally important to make the Democrats cast those votes, and make Obama use that veto pen. If efforts to save America from the Affordable Care Act disaster are pre-emptively abandoned merely because the Left threatens to thwart them, the Left gets its victory without spending any political capital at all. They get to sit back and watch the Republican establishment hurl insults at people like Senator Ted Cruz, without lifting a finger.
In fact, some Republicans are so obliging that they won’t even require the Democrats to make their vote and veto threats out loud. The counter-attack is inferred, its success is assumed, and the GOP concludes the battle is not worth fighting, because it cannot be won. They even helpfully destroy each others’ reputations and careers, to simulate the damage they would have taken if they had done something bold. It’s like the old Star Trek episode “A Taste of Armageddon,” where the people of a severely messed-up star system spent centuries fighting an entirely simulated interplanetary war, marching obedient citizens off to suicide booths after their computers tallied up the casualties from each hypothetical attack.
The point of that Star Trek episode was to show how wars can pointlessly drag on forever, if they’re made painless enough. I highly recommend the GOP leadership watch it before selecting a batch of Tea Party types to drum out of the caucus after casting some symbolic but meaningless vote they can brag about in fund-raising letters.
Fortunately, it looks like they are going to consider meaningful action, as outlined by Politico today:
House Republicans will propose increasing the debt limit for one year, while delaying Obamacare for the same amount of time.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) unveiled the plan during a presentation in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans Wednesday morning. The debt ceiling legislation, which House Republicans are beginning to craft, will also include tax reform instructions, language to urge the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and other health care and non-health care budgetary reforms.
[…] Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will attempt this week to pass a funding bill to keep the government open until Dec. 15 at a$986 billion level.
The House GOP bill will also include language to choke off funding for the Affordable Care Act. That provision is almost certain to be stripped out by the Democratic majority in the Senate. The White House will issue a veto threat on the continuing resolution when it is filed in the House, according to Democratic sources.
Unfortunately, this is being portrayed as a food fight between House Republicans and Senate Republicans:
GOP leadership’s goal is to force Senate conservatives like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to hold up any government funding bill that doesn’t defund Obamacare. Senior House Republican aides and lawmakers are sick of Senate conservatives blaming the House for funding the law.
“We’re going to put Obamacare defunding directly into the CR,” Boehner told his GOP colleagues. “And then we’re going to send it over to the Senate, so our conservative allies over there can continue the fight. That’s where the fight is.”
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Boehner took direct aim at Senate Republicans, saying: “The fight over here has been won. The House has voted over 40 times to change Obamacare, to repeal it. It’s time for the Senate to have this fight.”
That all sounds like something Boehner should have said to Cruz and his band of happy warriors behind the scenes, not in front of a news camera, but at least everyone’s talking about doing something. The important thing is to make the Democrats do the things Politico anticipates… and then make them pay a steep political price for it.
That’s going to involve being tough against people who have the media firmly on their side. Do not shrink from that battle. Make everyone person in the huge majority of Americans who don’t like ObamaCare understand that the Democrats are once again forcing it down their throats, even after we followed their astoundingly dimwitted advice to “pass it so we can find out what’s in it,” and it turned out to be full of gremlins.
Alinsky the hell out of Obama and his allies. Make them explain why government shutdowns are suddenly a super awesome idea, provided they’re initiated by Democrats to protect failed Big Government programs they personally refuse to participate in. Ask how anyone in either the House or Senate can, in good conscience, vote to pour money into a program whose authors clearly admit is unworkable. Defund, delay… why not put both on the table, and make the Democrats explain the urgent necessity of pumping more blood into the veins of a dying monstrosity, even if the “full faith and credit of the U.S. government” must be put at risk?
Never stop talking about all the jobs sacrificed to ObamaCare. Never stop asking its defenders how many more jobs they’re willing to kill, how much taxpayer money they want to grab, how many carve-outs and exemptions they plan to create for their top donors. ObamaCare is not a well-intentioned but flawed program. It’s a mountain of festering corruption and waste. There is no reason to be polite to the people who throw themselves in front of the legislative bulldozers that might clear it away. They certainly have no interest in being polite to Republicans, do they? No, they freely accuse their opponents of wanting people to die. Hit them back equally hard.
Make sure the freshly-unveiled conservative proposal to replace ObamaCare – with sound ideas like health savings accounts, liability reform, and lifting the silly restrictions against selling insurance across state lines – becomes a part of every conversation about health care and debt-ceiling maneuvers. One of Obama’s favorite rhetorical tricks is pretending there aren’t any alternatives to his health-care boondoggle, painting his opponents as vandals who just want to erase his signature achievement because they hate him personally. Make him look like a bloody fool every time he says that. He should wince when he sees the reaction to such a phony talking point. Make Americans understand that Obama is standing in the way of good reforms that would benefit them, respect their dignity, and fit into the American Constitutional order, rather than distorting it beyond all recognition.
This is an important national debate, not a little Beltway dust-up between the dominant liberal ruling class and establishment Republicans who want to pop off a few good sound bites without jeopardizing their cocktail-party invitations. ObamaCare is killing us out here in flyover country, guys. It’s already awful, and it’s going to get worse. Even its defenders describe it as a “big effing deal,” to quote Vice President Joe Biden. We want reformers to treat it like a big effing deal, too.
That means taking the gloves off and getting into the scrum. And even if you lose, let the other guys know they’ve been in a fight. Making them pay a price for successful political opposition is better than letting them win battles without firing a shot. It gives you something to show the voters in those upcoming midterm elections, which terrify Democrats so much that President Obama violated the Constitution to push the employer mandate back. It buys you credit for sincerity with people who might otherwise wonder why the right day to do battle against a failed government program never seems to dawn. It helps you move public opinion, which is sometimes a slow and painful process… but you’ll notice the Left never shies away from it, just because they know a particular struggle will be difficult. When they lose a vote, they take it as evidence they need to try harder. When Republicans think they might lose a vote, they don’t even try.
Did the Democrat leadership give up on ObamaCare when the election of Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts made its passage problematic? No, they did not. They redoubled their efforts, pulled out all the stops, cut every backroom deal they could, and even accepted the possibility – eventually realized – of midterm election losses. One does not have to endorse these tactics to appreciate the discipline of a political party fighting to achieve an objective it judged worthwhile. The Democrats think their opponents lack such resolve and discipline, even when public support for their principles is running high. You’ve got one more chance to prove them wrong, Republicans.