[I]f Republicans do act, if they vote to fund Obamacare, then they are for Obamacare. Don’t let them fool you with meaningless “repeal” votes. Repeal – i.e., changing the law – is a positive act; unlike refusing to spend money, it cannot be accomplished simply by saying no. Just as President Obama needs Republicans to get his spending, Republicans would need the president (or substantial cooperation from congressional Democrats) to get their repeal. This, we all know, they will never get – there will be no repeal until an election or two drastically changes the landscape. But spending is another story – and President Obama should be made to understand that it is just as hopeless to get Republican assent to spending on Obamacare as Republicans understand it is hopeless to get Obama’s assent on repeal.

In fact, defunding has a chance to work precisely because it is not an effort to repeal Obamacare. President Obama is a proud man. It is unreasonable to expect that he would ever sign a repeal, a complete surrender that would be tantamount to an admission of total failure. Defunding is not a complete victory for Republicans – Obamacare would still remain on the books as the law of the land…

Obama is talking a brave game right now about how he won’t even entertain a budget that erases Obamacare – he vows a veto and a shutdown. But his political position is untenable, even with the media carrying his water. He will be grinding things to a halt to force Obamacare on the public even though he himself has slashed Obamacare for the benefit of big business and members of Congress. By agreeing to fund the rest of government, Republicans allow Obama a face-saving out: He can tell his base he preserved record-spending on social welfare programs, and that while Obamacare has been delayed, it is still the law and he will be back pushing for funding it in next year’s budget when the executive branch is more prepared to implement it.

That’s why I’m betting he’ll cave.

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The bill now heads to the Senate, where the Democratic majority will amend it, likely restoring Obamacare funding, and send it back to the House.

But Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said he hopes that regular Americans, and more spiritual beings, will influence senators.

“When the American people get engaged, they have a way of making elected officials see the light, find the Lord, and do the right thing. This bill does the right thing,” Jordan said in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”…

“The people have a way of weighing in on these debates, and changing the minds of politicians,” said Jordan. “I think there are senators who are going to find Jesus and do the right thing.”

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, vented about the House Republicans’ frustration at the Senate GOP on Thursday.

“It’s pretty palpable in our conference, I would say,” Ryan told POLITICO. “You mean about how they’re saying we’re not going to fight, and back at you, we’re not going to fight but forget about what we said earlier? Yeah, there’s a bit of frustration. … We all believe the same thing, we all want to achieve the same goal, and so we shouldn’t be questioning each other’s conservatism over tactical disagreements.”…

“I think the biggest concern I’ve had all along is that to answer the question how does this end?” said Sen. John Cornyn, a fellow Texas Republican who serves as minority whip. “And I think that people are now beginning to realize that by being divided over this approach, that we’ve actually made the job harder for the House Republicans. That’s something I would hope we would try to avoid.”

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Cruz went out of his way to question the motives of those who publicly expressed skepticism that his strategy would work. He called them members of a “surrender caucus” and derided them as politics-as-usual establishment quislings.

As far as I know, Cruz has not reached out to a single Democrat in the Senate in attempt to cobble together the 60 votes necessary to defund Obamacare in that body. He and his supporters have instead trained their fire on Republicans who argue that his strategy won’t work.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC with ties to Heritage President Jim DeMint, has raised and spent considerable money to run several ads against Republican senators McConnell, Flake, Cochran, Burr, Isakson, and Graham, attacking them for expressing skepticism about the defund strategy. SCF has not run a single ad on the topic criticizing Democrats.

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That leads us to a possible shutdown. Will the House refuse to pass a continuing resolution without the defund Obamacare language? If that happens, many government activities would grind to a halt after Oct. 1. However, implementation of Obamacare would not be one of them.

There are two reasons this is so, according to CRS. The first is that the federal government has multiple pots of money on which to draw when it comes to ACA implementation…

In addition, projected health insurance subsidies for many lower-income Americans aren’t payments, but tax credits. Those aren’t appropriations at all. And even if the government shuts down, the IRS could continue to process these credits.

That brings us to the second reason Obamacare would roll on: Government agencies have some leeway to structure their activities. IRS employees could still take applications from Americans eligible for subsidies, “even if the salaries of the federal employees who are making those determinations have lapsed,” according to CRS.

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“I don’t think the president will sign any legislation to defund Obamacare, and neither will the Senate pass any legislation to defund Obamacare,” Paul tells National Review, in an interview at his Capitol Hill office. “The president’s idea of politics is, he’s won this, and he’s not revisiting it.”

Paul says the GOP’s weak negotiating position is partly to blame. “How this plays out, how this works, is that to get anything, you have to be united, and Republicans don’t appear to be united,” he explains. “You also need to pass legislation well in advance of the deadline, and then be willing to go through the deadline. If you don’t have those pieces, you don’t have the leverage.”

“I didn’t paint a very pretty picture, did I?” Paul chuckles. “But that’s where we are. President Obama and the Democrats know Republicans won’t go through the deadline, he knows we’re just not serious, so he has the upper hand.”

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And here is the deeper problem with Cruz’s argument. The notion that people receiving subsidies will become “addicted” to Obamacare rests on the moocher theory of American politics, a simplistic and inaccurate idea that there are conservative “makers” who pay taxes and vote Republican and liberal “takers” who are dependent on government and vote Democratic. Like Mitt Romney’s statement about “the 47 percent,” Cruz’s remarks implicitly assume that conservatives have nothing to offer beneficiaries of government programs.

If Obamacare is as bad as Cruz and other conservatives say—if it’s going to pick the pockets of the young, ration care for the elderly, tax employers, slash wages and benefits of employees, assault religious liberty, subsidize elective abortions with taxpayer money, and bust the budget—shouldn’t Republicans be able to rally the American people behind something better? Shouldn’t Republicans in Congress be able to unite behind a set of conservative reforms that helps Americans with preexisting conditions through subsidized high-risk pools while freeing up the market and fixing the tax code to lower costs?…

So the big question isn’t really whether Obamacare will eventually fail, but what comes after it fails. When Obamacare starts to unravel, will the American people trust the Democrats who designed it to fix it by giving the government more power and more control? Or will Obamacare’s failure provide an opportunity to repeal it and replace it with a conservative free-market reform?

Republicans will have a good shot at passing real reform—so long as they avoid blundering into a government shutdown that will not stop Obamacare but will only lend credence to false Democratic claims that the problem with Obamacare isn’t the law itself but rather GOP obstruction and sabotage.

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The House vote to defund could turn out to be a nice stroke, if it’s viewed as a way of putting Democrats on the record. That’s not going to make the “defund” proponents happy, but that’s life for the party out of power. From there, you have to convince the public that if they want to get rid of Obamacare (as the polls suggest they do), they have to throw its supporters out of office.

This is how our system works: You put in the hard work of campaigning and framing issues, you win, and then you get to make policy. But that’s like telling an overweight person that he must diet and exercise to lose weight — why go to all the trouble if you think there’s an easy shortcut? Why learn to play chess or even checkers if you think you can win the game by throwing the pieces at your opponent until he leaves the board in shame?

Likewise, instead of playing the long game to repeal a bad law, a large number of well-meaning conservatives have been talked into a shortcut that leads to defeat and disillusionment. This plan has all the sense of the Wisconsin and Indiana Democrats who fled their respective states in order to prevent a vote on controversial union-related legislation.

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The only plausible way to avert Obamacare’s economic carnage — to the extent that it can be averted — is for Republicans to sweep the next two election cycles. Only that will provide the opportunity to repeal the law and reduce government intervention in the health care and insurance industries in favor of free market policies…

On the contrary, Democrat politicians must be forced to run their campaigns defending the law they voted for and promised would be everything it is not. The Republican/conservative strategy should be to back off. Just allow the law to hit the American economy with all the might of its several thousand pages of regulations and requirements…

If conservatives truly believe this bill is as disastrous as we’ve portrayed it — and I certainly do — then let’s allow the bill to prove itself as such. Fighting for defund or delay is merely to tinker and postpone. The Democrats should have to own this one and run on it. The economic toll will be steep, but there can be no tourniquet for the wound if Democrats continue to win elections.

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“This is the United States of America — we’re not some banana republic, this is not a deadbeat nation, we don’t run out on our tab.”

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Via the Corner.

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