I think he’s right, but that just means we’re never going to do it, no? We had two huge chances last year to kill it in its crib. One was at the Supreme Court. Anthony Kennedy was prepared to pull the trigger; John Roberts wasn’t. The other was in November. We blew it both times.

The last gasp before the exchanges are up and running is to follow Cruz and hold out for defunding, but that feels like an underpants-gnome process at this point. Step one: Pass an amendment withholding funding for O-Care in the continuing resolution. Step two: ???? Step three: Obama caves and agrees to defund. What’s step two here?

“If there is ever a time to defeat Obamacare, it is now,” Cruz said at a briefing at the Heritage Foundation. “Moreover, we have, I believe, the best opportunity we will have, and possibly the last good opportunity we will have to defund Obamacare with the continuing resolution.”

“If we do not pursue this strategy,” he said later, “we are saying we surrender. Obamacare will be a permanent feature of the American economy.”…

“If the subsidies kick in, the prospect or full repeal of Obamacare diminish dramatically,” Cruz said.

Absolutely true. Obama’s secret weapon here is dependency and the sooner dependency begins, the more difficult it is to cancel the program. This is why Team O is dead set, come hell or high water, on getting the exchanges up and running. They’ll delay the employer mandate, they’ll suspend the anti-fraud provisions — they’ll fiddle with the law however they need to in order to make it more salable in the near term so long as the exchanges start on time. Hence Cruz’s desperation in dramatic action soon. But sketch this out for me: Even if Karl Rove’s polls showing that the public overwhelmingly opposes shutting down the government are wrong, under what scenario does Obama cave and decide to agree to defunding (or some lesser compromise anti-ObamaCare measure)? This is his baby. If immigration reform falls apart, O-Care may be the only real domestic legacy he has as president. He knows he has his boot on the GOP’s throat when it comes to repeal thanks to his two big wins last year. Even if the public blamed him for a shutdown rather than the GOP, how likely is it that he’ll break and risk destroying his legacy by signing a bill that defunds the program before the exchanges go into effect? I’d say it’s absolute zero, especially knowing that the media will go face first into the tank for him in blaming any shutdown on the GOP. Even staunch ObamaCare critics like Peter Suderman can’t see the endgame here.

In fact, according to the CRS, a government shutdown wouldn’t even stop certain key parts of O-Care from taking effect. Subsidies under the law are mandatory spending, so they continue; the penalties for not buying insurance would continue too. Instead of demanding defunding, then, why not demand that the individual mandate be suspended instead? That’s better terrain for the GOP since they can push the point (as Ted Cruz already is doing) that it’s unfair to exempt business owners for a year and not individual citizens. O will dig in because he needs the revenue from the mandate, but the mandate is sufficiently unpopular that you might get some Democrats voting against it too. Who knows what happens after that? Click the image to watch.

tc1