Republican Plan to Defund Obamacare: The GOP’s Strategy Is Make-Believe.
If you’re in a hurry, and you can only memorize one fact about the coming congressional debt and budget war, try this: There will be no “defunding of Obamacare.” It’s impossible for Republicans to admit it, great energy is being spent to prevent them from admitting it, and large sums of money are being raised and spent to stop conservatives from realizing it. If you want to skip to the end of this drama, past Friday’s likely vote on the resolution that defunds Obamacare, the final page reads “… and Obamacare survived.”
To get to that ending, House Republicans—who really do want to shred the law—have to construct a series of hallucinations for their holdouts. They’re very convincing hallucinations. The current plan, which Republican leaders were confident enough to endorse on camera today, is to pass a continuing resolution that funds the government at a shrunken, post-sequestration level, but ends funding for Obamacare—implementation, subsidies, etc.—permanently. And if that fails, Republicans are going to try to demand a one-year delay of Obamacare in a deal to raise the debt limit.
It’s a brilliant ruse. Until last week, Eric Cantor and other House GOP leaders had wanted to pass a funding bill that carved out Obamacare. This would have allowed members to say they’d voted against the funding, then blame the Senate for betraying them. The plan was condemned by conservative groups like Heritage Action, and by Sen. Ted Cruz, who’d just spent August stumping for the death of Obamacare, often at events sponsored by Heritage Action. “Another symbolic vote against Obamacare is meaningless,” said Cruz. “Tell Pete Sessions and Eric Cantor to stop playing games with the lives of Americans,” said redstate.com’s Erick Erickson. Cantor relented right before Congress recessed for a long weekend instead of resolving the dispute.
The new defunding plan was built from the blueprints of Cruz and Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, both Republicans who’d criticized the Cantor sellout. It was sold, successfully, at the conference’s Wednesday meeting.