Why hasn’t Obama responded to the GOP’s ObamaCare demands with counter-demands?

posted at 7:21 pm on October 1, 2013 by Allahpundit

Joel Pollak of Breitbart asks a good question.

President Barack Obama told National Public Radio recently: “I shouldn’t have to offer anything.” That sounds tough, but those are words the president and his party may live to regret. As Republicans scrambled to find a way to pass funding for the federal government, the president could have extracted heavy concessions on other issues in exchange for a delay in parts of Obamacare. Instead, he just stonewalled.

That highlights the premium that the Obama administration places on Republican capitulation. Following his lead, several Democrat Senators who want to repeal Obamacare’s medical device tax voted against that repeal when Republicans included it in their funding bill. Their top priority was to defend Obama’s “red line” against negotiations–to beat the GOP, not to win substantive gains for their own policy priorities.

That is a major opportunity missed. If President Obama had demanded that House Republicans pass, say, immigration reform as the price of a delay in Obamacare, that would have been tough to refuse. It certainly would have put Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has led the charge against both amnesty and Obamacare, in a bind. Alternatively, Obama could have asked for action on gun control, among other issues.

In one sense, this is easy to explain. If Obama has decided, whether for reasons of pride or strategy, that he won’t offer concessions on ObamaCare for fear that it’ll encourage the GOP to keep picking away at the law, then obviously the counter-demand approach is a nonstarter. As much as he’d like the GOP to agree to an amnesty — and I think Pollak’s right that a lot of Republicans would think hard about that, knowing that they could blame O for driving a hard bargain in voting yes — evidently he believes that his legacy turns on ObamaCare. Better to protect his baby and get nothing out of this process than start making deals and set the precedent that O-Care is fair game for concessions in the future.

So far, so good. But what about Pollak’s point about gun control? What if, in response to the GOP’s demand for ObamaCare defunding, Obama decided to add an assault-weapons ban as his price for agreeing to fund the government? That’s a different kind of counter-demand than amnesty: The GOP might actually agree to immigration reform in exchange for delaying O-Care for a year, but they’d never agree to an AWB and Obama knows it. But, precisely for that reason, it would be useful to him politically. He could make that point that, just as Republicans are asking him to give up a core part of the Democratic agenda — a program the public hasn’t even had a chance to try yet — he’s asking them to give up a core part of the Republican agenda. And, just as it’s unrealistic to expect the GOP to agree and therefore unfair to condition funding of the government upon it, it’s unrealistic and unfair for the GOP to demand ObamaCare concessions. He could even say, “As soon as Republicans drop their ObamaCare demands, I’ll drop the assault-weapons ban. I’m only listing it as a demand now to prove a point.” That way, he’d protect himself from the charge that he’s the one driving the shutdown by insisting on something unreasonable as his price for ending it.

Why doesn’t he do that? When I tweeted out that question along with a link to Pollak’s post, a few liberals tweeted back that O would never do such a thing because “he doesn’t negotiate with TERRORISTS.” But … he wouldn’t be negotiating in the hypothetical I just laid out. Demanding an assault-weapons ban wouldn’t be a legit demand, just a rhetorical device he’d be using to put Republicans on the defensive. At the very least, it would shift some of the attention away from criticisms of ObamaCare to criticisms of conservative gun policy. If his goal here is to break the GOP and convince them that using fiscal deadlines to extract concessions is a dead end (which is very much his goal with the debt-ceiling deadline looming), then this would be one way to do it. And yet he hasn’t. Why?

Maybe the answer is as simple as O believing his own BS about being the “adult in the room” and not stooping to Republican tactics. Even then, though, his refusal to make counter-demands doesn’t make sense, since the whole point of the scenario I laid out would be to show how supposedly childish it is to attach ideological demands to keeping the government’s lights on. Believe it or not, Carney was asked about this at today’s White House briefing and … he had no real answer either, except to say that O “won’t play the Republican game.” Why not, if it might convince them to stop playing?

Maybe he’ll end up doing something like this after all. According to some estimates, the shutdown could last two weeks.

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Barry doesn’t know how to negotiate.

In law school, he had a choice between taking The Fundamentals of Negotiation 101 or The Fundamentals of Racial Grievance Mongering 101. The negotiation class was graded by exam, the racial grievance class was graded by skin color.

Guess which one he chose.

AZCoyote on October 1, 2013 at 9:09 PM

canopfor on October 1, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Thanks for all the Roll Call Votes. That helps me a lot since I print them out for reference!!

So far we have #506, 507, 508 unless I’m behind:-)

bluefox on October 1, 2013 at 9:15 PM

de rigueur on October 1, 2013 at 8:33 PM

Good points. Get the House Dems voting for those bills & then Reid will most likely do the same. Hmmmmm

bluefox on October 1, 2013 at 9:20 PM

The problem with that is that the spine of the House GOP comes not from Tea Party rebels but from the way the phone lines were melting going into the budget battle. We the people made it clear that simply saying “yes sir” to the lazy stupid coward was not going to be acceptable.

Happy Nomad on October 1, 2013 at 7:46 PM

I think it came from both. Tom Graves, Jim Jordan have about 70 Tea Party Conservatives that have been sticking together. A lot of those took office in 2011 after the 2010 mid terms. These haven’t been giving the credit due them imo, as they are hardly ever mentioned.

I know the phone calls shut down the Capitol Switchboard and many Senators lines as well, LOL Took me several days to make my calls!

bluefox on October 1, 2013 at 9:29 PM

onlineanalyst on October 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM

That is as funny as you say, LOL I liked this one:

In Caplow City, Maine, President Gerald Ford, long thought dead and believed to have been buried in Michigan, appeared and declared himself to be the nation’s new leader.

bluefox on October 1, 2013 at 9:41 PM

can someone explain to me how the same rubes that cant seem to find a proper voter ID card can find a O-care card??

going2mars on October 1, 2013 at 8:45 PM

I don’t know. But why can’t each State offer a Voter ID card application to be completed online? Then the State can mail the Voter the card.

If that’s too difficult, have volunteers go door to door to all that can’t apply on line.

States need to think outside of the box.

bluefox on October 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM

Sorry AP, but comparing Obamacare to Gun rights isn’t going to fly. Gun ownership is a constitutional right, being forced to buy something from a private party regardless of one’s desire or ability to do so goes against everything the Constitution stands for.

abobo on October 1, 2013 at 9:47 PM

I don’t know. But why can’t each State offer a Voter ID card application to be completed online? Then the State can mail the Voter the card.

If that’s too difficult, have volunteers go door to door to all that can’t apply on line.

States need to think outside of the box.

bluefox on October 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM

Needs to has a pitcher.

slickwillie2001 on October 1, 2013 at 9:53 PM

So, Obama is only concerned about an issue “unrelated” to the budget.

Then let’s get him a bill that funds Obamacare and cuts spending by 10%.

blink on October 1, 2013 at 9:34 PM

I am totally on board with that move. Personally, I don’t really care all that much if there is a 1 year delay in the individual mandate anyway. Personally, I might prefer the pain that that causes as well as the revenue that it garners.

Let me add, I might accept as low as a 2% across the board cut as long as it was an actual cut instead of simply a reduction in the increases. Doesn’t the government spending go up 7% automatically every year or something like that? Reduce that number by a few percent and I would take that deal as well.

KMav on October 1, 2013 at 9:59 PM

canopfor on October 1, 2013 at 8:12 PM

What was the final vote on funding appropriations for White House tours?

What do you mean, they didn’t vote on it?

Maddie on October 1, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Well, the lefties have a point about O not negotiating with terrorists; instead, he arms them.

BKeyser on October 1, 2013 at 10:31 PM

Republicans are focusing on ObamaCare because the base is stirred up about it. There is no way they would give a concession on issues just as dear and important to their supporters.

Obama is playing a dangerous game here. Republicans have been blamed uniformly in the past for shutdowns and threats of others, but for instance Clinton kept meeting with Gingrich right up to and beyond the drop-deadline. Obama won’t meet at all, he appears intransigent (because he is!) and this might turn public opinion against him – he has already struck new lows in popularity and job approval, it isn’t as if he is at peak popularity like Reagan in 1985.

If that happens, it is because Obama is stupid and arrogant, though, not because the strategy was well conceived or executed on our part.

It is about time serendipity favored our side, though.

Adjoran on October 1, 2013 at 11:15 PM

“he doesn’t negotiate with TERRORISTS.”

Really, what do you call that phone call to Rouhani? He can call a terrorist in Iran but won’t negotiate with the House Repubs?

TulsAmerican on October 1, 2013 at 11:55 PM

omigosh, this is hilarious.

onlineanalyst on October 1, 2013 at 8:42 PM


AesopFan on October 1, 2013 at 11:59 PM

Carney was asked about this at today’s White House briefing and … he had no real answer either, except to say that O “won’t play the Republican game.” Why not, if it might convince them to stop playing?

Because they don’t want to stop playing it.

They want the game ongoing, all the time, forever – as long as they’re winning. With a supine, throne-sniffing media in his pocket serving as a de facto press office for the DNC (guess they forgave and forgot about O’s assault on press freedom earlier this year), it’s not difficult to do this.

Their game is politics, not doing what’s good for the country.

A pox on both houses.

Good Lt on October 2, 2013 at 7:59 AM

Republicans are focusing on ObamaCare because the base is stirred up about it. There is no way they would give a concession on issues just as dear and important to their supporters.

Adjoran on October 1, 2013 at 11:15 PM

CBS’s talking head verbally attacked a female GOP Congresswoman last night, insisting that their poll shows the majority of Americans support Obamacare. He did this in response to her stating the FACT that there is Bi-Partisan opposition to Obamacare in Washington and only extremely Partisan support for it.

Fox News decided to pull up the CBS Poll to verify what he was saying….Ummmm…CBS’ own poll showed over 60% of Americans OPPOSE Obamacare and want it gone!

The reason there is Bi-Partisan opposition is because the whole thing was built on lies, $500 Million taken from Medicare to lower the cost, will add over $1 trillion in new debt, is raising insurance costs an ‘average 300%’, has and is destroying business, has/is destroying the 40-hr work week, has/is causing people to lose their jobs and insurance, & it is UN-Constitutional — Obama does not have the authority to modify any law once passed, bypassing congress to do so. Technically Obamacare DOES NOT EXIST ANY MORE because once he Un-Constitutionally / Illegally modified it (waivers) it became NULL AND VOID.

Obamacare is the SECOND DUMBEST & MOST NATIONAL SECURITY THREATENING Idea Obama has implemented….aiding and abetting Al Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11/01 AND 9/11/12, take over their own nation (Libya) is #1.

easyt65 on October 2, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Negotiation was not part of the liberal “diversity” and “affirmative action” programs Obama grew up under…

Heck…it was always given to him ’cause he’s black and whitey owes it to him!!…This is liberal mantra..

This attitude is rife though-out the liberal ‘democrat party’ as well..

BigSven on October 2, 2013 at 9:16 AM

I wish I had the Scotch concession in DC. I could retire to a tropical island next month. Is dear leader playing golf every day? It better not be at Andrews AFB course. That sucker should be closed down just like all the war memorials.

Kissmygrits on October 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM

President Obama may have in mind this probably apocryphal story about Prime Minister Churchill:

At a dinner party one night, a drunk Churchill asked an attractive woman whether she would sleep with him for a million pounds. “Maybe,” the woman said coyly. “Would you sleep with me for one pound?” Churchill then asked. “Of course not, what kind of woman do you think I am?” the woman responded indignantly. “Madam, we’ve already established what kind of woman you are,” said Churchill, “now we’re just negotiating the price.”

Once you admit that something is open for negotiation, it is very hard to go back and say that it can not be had. If you are not willing to ever negotiate about an item that is not to be part of the “deal”, it never pays to voluntarily add it into the negotiation dance.

New_Jersey_Buckeye on October 2, 2013 at 3:13 PM

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