March 18, 2013
Boehner to Keep Funding ObamaCareBy J. Robert Smith
This is why the Republican Party is flopping and floundering like a beached whale. You've heard the news, no doubt. Speaker John Boehner said that he'll allow the CR (Continuing Resolution) that House Republicans are crafting to fund ObamaCare. The speaker, in a rather shallow, one-dimensional pronouncement, stated last week that tackling the federal budget is about "cutting spending." The speaker fears that defunding ObamaCare in the CR risks shutting down government (perish the thought).
Here are the speaker's own words, as reported by cnsnews.com:
"I believe that trying to put Obamacare on this vehicle risks shutting down the government," Boehner said. "That's not what our goal is. Our goal here is to reduce spending."
Mr. Speaker, the goal of the House Republican Caucus isn't to play the ever-expanding welfare state's bookkeeper and accountant. The goal of your caucus (along with Republican senators) is to create a compelling alternative to what the federal government should be and what its relationship is to the people. ObamaCare effectively nationalizes one-sixth of the nation's economy, undermines liberty by curtailing Americans' choices in health care, and, not incidentally, will wind up mega-bombing the federal budget, the national debt (already nearly unsustainable), and make Uncle Sam's current Grand Canyon-size deficit look like a divot by comparison.
It's the big picture, Mr. Speaker, the BIG picture. The time has come to draw a real line in the sand. All these symbolic votes House Republicans cast against ObamaCare means less than voting for your favorite American Idol contestant. Let's get real -- and really put some bite behind all the bark.
Clearly, it makes the speaker's and his lieutenants' skin crawl just thinking about the blowback from voters if they'd strike dollars from the CR for ObamaCare, thereby provoking the president to shut down the government. We can guess that Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy are taking wise counsel from the flawless DC consultants who gave us President Romney, a U.S. Senate majority, and added to the Republican House majority in last year's elections. Right-O.
Since the speaker is courageously leaning on focus groups, polling, and consultants advising him not to alienate the independents, let's look at the results of a Rasmussen survey that was in the field March 8-9.
From the survey's summary:
Forty-five percent (45%) view it [ObamaCare] favorably, while 48% share an unfavorable opinion of it. This includes 18% with a Very Favorable view and 33% with a Very Unfavorable one. These attitudes have held steady since last November's election.
That's 18% being very favorable to ObamaCare and 33% being very unfavorable. In terms of intensity, that's about twice as many voters who are adamant in their opposition to government-run health care. As Rasmussen states, those numbers have been constant since the elections. One would think the hard opposition to ObamaCare would buck up the speaker's resolve. But oh, no.
The crosscurrent for the speaker are polls that show majorities of Americans (mostly Democrats and those precious independents) are against a government shutdown or favor a mix of spending cuts (in budget increases, mind you) and tax hikes (on the rich, of course); the so-called "Balanced Approach."
The speaker and House Republicans are participating in the pretense that the federal budget is on its way to being tamed. It's a pretense because federal spending and borrowing continue to rise and are past reckless now verging on suicidal. Cutting increases in federal spending are theatre -- bad theatre, at that.
More than the federal budget, government programs need to be sun-set or devolved onto the states (cutting Medicaid funding and block granting the program back to the states would be a start). Programs that remain in Washington's bailiwick need fundamental reforms -- not merely cuts -- to make them actuarially sound in the coming years (that would include Social Security and Medicare). And critically, federal program reforms need to allow citizens more freedom of choice outside of government. In other words, Republicans need to create pathways for citizens to find what they need in the private sector. That's the stuff of liberty, Mr. Speaker.
For the speaker to allow ObamaCare funding to proceed gives the program more of a grip on the government and the nation. Sure, the president and Democrats would howl if Boehner said, flatly: "No funding for ObamaCare in the CR." The fossil media would lunge at the speaker with daggers drawn. Beautiful. Voters deserve a kerfuffle over not just green eyeshade budgeting but what Washington should and shouldn't do, what it can and can't achieve. And a real brawl over liberty versus tyranny (soft on the way to hard, as it now stands).
Such a bare-knuckled brawl over the nature and direction of government would require that the speaker and Republicans actually communicate with Americans and plainly articulate their thinking and positions. That hasn't been the hallmark of silent and mumble-mouthed Republicans, granted. But the times, they need to be a-changing for the GOP's elected. And cowering in corners for fear of the mainstream media has got to be, oh, dashed. Get out of Washington and onto the hustings, Mr. Speaker. This is politics, not paper-pushing. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul could give their fellow Republicans lessons in guts.
"But, but, such a dogmatic approach won't work on the budget and ObamaCare," cry wobbly establishment Republicans. "That's the problem with you conservatives... so -- so unrealistic and you offer no negotiating leeway."
Okay, Mr. Speaker. Here's some negotiating leeway. Announce that ObamaCare will be defunded in the CR. Then watch the president and congressional Democrats grandstand and demagogue House Republicans and you as bullheaded obstructionists... cruel and heartless to the poor and downtrodden. Then you, Mr. Speaker, state that in the interest of compromise and keeping the government open for business, you'll agree to permit some funding of ObamaCare. "Some" translated means funding very little and the least significant aspects of the president's health care grab; those aspects that will move the program along only barely, if that.
Two can play the perceptions game, eh?
"But, but, the way the law is constructed, Republicans can't cherry-pick what aspects of ObamaCare are funded and what aren't. Cross our hearts and hope to die."
Figure it out and find a way. The devil's in the details, as they say. Make the Democrats fight you over your interpretation of how ObamaCare funding will go. For God's sake, push the envelope!
Strip off the green eyeshades, Mr. Speaker. Those of us on the right are fighting for more than how to make big government run a little better. We're fighting for freedom.
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