Quotes of the day

House Republican leadership will attempt to pass a government-funding bill with language that defunds Obamacare, according to senior aides…

The attempt to defund Obamacare, which has almost no chance of being enacted into law, signals that Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy felt the need to take a sharp turn to the right in order to pass a government funding bill through the House. The House GOP leadership’s preferred plan – to attach a non-binding rider to defund the law – was rejected by several dozen rank-and-file Republican lawmakers, in an embarrassing setback for Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy…

Rep. Tom Graves’ (R-Ga.) popular bill to both fund the government and delay Obamacare for a year will not get a vote, according to leadership aides.


This means the conservatives who have been urging Boehner to back a defunding effort as part of the CR have won a victory, at least in terms of getting the leadership to go along with their strategy. But getting such a CR through the Democratic Senate and signed into law will be very difficult — and many House Republican insiders say a “Plan B” may be needed.

Here’s how my sources expect this gambit to unfold: The House passes a “defund CR,” throws it to the Senate, and waits to see what Senator Ted Cruz and his allies can do. Maybe they can get it through, maybe they can’t. Boehner and Cantor will be supportive. But if Cruz and company can’t get it through the Senate, the leadership will urge Republicans to turn their focus to the debt limit, avoid a shutdown, and pass a CR that doesn’t defund Obamacare.


Yesterday a senior House staffer confronted an aide to Senator Ted Cruz, telling him he was “not dealing in reality.” Today House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer said Republicans have confessed to him they are “shaking their heads” at their conservative colleagues.

“I talk to Republicans all the time who are shaking their heads at the irrationality of some of the people in their conference. I’m not going to name names because, why should I start that fight? But there’s no doubt in my mind that there are a significant number and perhaps a majority of Republicans who agree with Hal Rogers,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen and pad.

Hoyer was referring to a statement that Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, issued in late July blasting GOP leadership for pulling one of his spending bills from the House floor.


The defunders sketch out an alternative scenario in which Mr. Obama is blamed, and they say we can’t know unless Republicans try. But even they admit privately that they really won’t succeed in defunding ObamaCare. The best case seems to be that if all Republicans show resolve they’ll win over the public in a shutdown, and Democrats will eventually surrender, well, something.

If this works it would be the first time. The evidence going back to the Newt Gingrich Congress is that no party can govern from the House, and the Republican Party can’t abide the outcry when flights are delayed, national parks close and direct deposits for military spouses stop. Sooner or later the GOP breaks…

The backbenchers are heading into another box canyon now. Mr. Boehner is undermined because the other side knows he lacks 218 GOP votes, which empowers House and Senate Democrats. They want to reverse the modest spending discipline of the sequester, and if the House GOP can’t hold together on the CR they will succeed. The only chance of any entitlement reform worth the name is if Mr. Boehner can hold his majority and negotiate from strength…

The best option now is for the GOP to unite behind a budget strategy that can hold 218 votes, keeping the sequester pressure of discretionary spending cuts on Democrats to come to the table on entitlements.


While essentially every poll taken over the past three-and-a-half years has shown that Americans want to see Obamacare repealed, they don’t want to see it defunded. Rather, polls show that Americans oppose defunding Obamacare by large margins—ranging from about 20 to 30 percentage points…

Americans seem to think that defunding sounds like foul play. One Kaiser poll actually asked those who opposed defunding why they opposed it, offering four potential reasons. The most commonly picked reason (and also the most commonly listed “major” reason) was this: “The appropriate way to stop a law is by voting to repeal it. Using the budget process to stop a law is just not the way our government should work.” Almost four in five people (79 percent) who were opposed to defunding gave this as a reason for their opposition, while 59 percent of them listed this as a “major” reason.

Meanwhile, Republicans have already passed a bill, with the support of 22 Democrats, to delay the individual mandate. They have already passed another bill, with the support of five Democrats, to delay Obamacare’s exchanges until such time as the inspector general can certify that they won’t be an open invitation to fraud. Republicans would be wise to make these House-passed bills the centerpiece of their push in the budget battles ahead.

If all or crucial parts of Obamacare are delayed, then the signature legislation of Obama’s presidency will look anything but inevitable—and if it can be delayed once, it can be delayed again and again, and then repealed.


Where opponents of Defund believe the strategy falls apart is when we must depend on Republicans to stand strong in the face of a PR nightmare. Basically “we’ll lose the fight but still get blamed and that will hit us hard in 2014.”

Well apologies again, but this may just be part of the process. It’s time to take our medicine, people. As I said on twitter yesterday, when we’ve reached the point where each election is so insurmountably important that we must defy our own principles in order to secure election to “survive to the next fight” then we may need to re-evaluate. This is the electoral equivalent of living paycheck to paycheck and, having lived that way before, I can assure you until you accept that there are going to be some consequences for how you got where you are, it’s only going to get worse. A PR nightmare can last years. But it will be far worse if you deal with it by curling into a fetal position…

The worst part of this tact and the tactic pushed by the people tweeting above, is that it continues the never-ending cycle of “the next fight.” The idea that each fight is less important the closer we get to it and that instead we must focus on what is coming next. It’s always easy to fight tomorrow what you don’t have the energy or will to fight today. I don’t believe the people that are against defunding Obamacare are automatically RINOs or that they “love Obamacare.” I just think they’re afraid that the Republicans will fail us like they always do when it comes to staring down the opposition and they are trying to get out in front of it with a plan that assumes their weakness. What they don’t seem to realize is that they’re giving those Republicans exactly the justification they need to do what they always do: nothing.


[L]et’s be sporting and grant Team Delay their assumptions and they magically get Obama to agree to a year long delay (it would have to be more than that since it would need to go into January 2015 to reflect the results of the 2014 elections).

Again, let’s be sporting and say the GOP holds the House and gains the Senate with 52-54 votes. Then we can pass a full repeal via reconciliation and Obama will veto it and then….what? Then you’ll go for a government shutdown? If it’s going to be a disaster for the GOP in 2013, why would it be any better for the GOP then than it is now? “Well, the election will make it clear that people don’t like ObmaCare”. Ok, but we know now they don’t like it. If you’re betting you’re going to win all these Senate seats because of opposition to ObamaCare, how is fighting for its repeal now going to hurt you?…

So having vented my spleen over this fight, what should we do? Well, if we can’t defund it I think the GOP should pass a CR that includes a provision mandating that the Affordable Care Act be implemented as passed. Remove all the delays, waivers and exemptions Obama has spent years granting. We passed it and we know what’s in it, implement the law as written, voted on and signed. No delay in the employer mandate, no carve out for unions, no pass for congressional staffers. Let Obama shutdown the government because he doesn’t want to implement his law. If he does that then the case will be made by Obama how bad the law is and then repeal becomes the goal.

Some people want to paper over these differences in strategy, temperament and yes, even philosophy. I don’t. I think the damage is done and the sooner the split happens between conservatives and the GOP the sooner we can stop fighting and start trying to win converts.


I remain unconvinced that any of these approaches are any smarter or more likely to succeed than the somehow “more radical” defunding approach, and I think it’s a bit silly to expect GOPers who won’t hold the line on a government shutdown to hold the same line on risking default. I do share the belief that fighting for delay is always more realistic (and polls better) than defunding, and that a debt ceiling fight reflects more on the president than the Congress (where the reverse is true of a CR), but it also makes sense to open any conflict with defunding, because you’re only going to move backwards from there. After all, you are a Republican.

In any case, this is all pointless and irrelevant: Republicans on Capitol Hill, in leadership or in the conservative wing, are seeking a point of leverage that does not exist. The president would like nothing better than to force a government shutdown and benefit from both the immediate backlash and the inevitable Republican cave. This is true of the CR or the debt ceiling, defund or delay, however you want to approach it. Arguing that one untenable position is savvy and politically intelligent while the other untenable position is crazy or ideologically treacherous is something Republicans have made something of a science in recent years…For as intransigent as the media paints them, you’d think they’d do a better job of it.


How are Republicans expected to win major concessions in a showdown with the sitting president of the United States if they aren’t even communicating among themselves? And is Boehner so crippled by his fear of the conservatives in his own conference that he can no longer say what he believes is the best strategy to achieve their shared goals?

The CR is hardly the only example of chaotic deliberation, but the concern for Republicans should be the trend lines. The distrust between leadership and the right flank has been steadily growing over time.

A range of Republican insiders on and off the Hill indicate that most people are in an agitated state about the missteps they see, which tend to vary according to which camp a person is in. One defense offered by Republican aides is that the House GOP’s process, while messy, eventually works. One Republican compares the situation to a dysfunctional family in which members yell at each another but ultimately settle on a plan…

If the distrust now is too deep to formulate strategy through a coherent process, it raises the question of what needs to change.


Via the Daily Caller.