The Path Forward
Republicans have spent the past few days leading up to the overly-hyped October 1 deadline negotiating with themselves. The House moved from full defunding of Obamacare to delay for one-year, in conjunction with repeal of the medical device tax. Then they passed another CR merely delaying the individual mandate along with eliminating the congressional exclusion. Then they passed a resolution attempting to go to conference with the Senate.
Harry Reid has rejected all of those proposals, even those supported by many of the Democrats in his conference.
Typically, it is the side that is constantly watering down their offer that is losing the debate. It was a mistake for Republicans to lose the high ground and simple messaging of defund while Reid stood firm in his position. Nonetheless, some Republicans think this was a good strategy because it exposed Reid’s intransigence to compromise and alacrity to force a shutdown.
Well, that is all irrelevant now. We have officially gone over the dreaded October 1 deadline, and the world is still functioning. If Republicans are really serious about fighting Obamacare, now is the time to steer the ship back to full defund of Obamacare.
Instead of using their last partial delay bill as the starting point for negotiations, they should make it clear to Harry Reid that now he gets nothing. The House should begin passing defund bills with individual full-year appropriations bills that fund essential functions. They should fund the DOD, DHS, State Department, and national parks. After that, the House should continue funding more functions of government, but leave out all those departments and agencies that pertain to Obamacare, such as HHS and the IRS.
The messaging has to remain simple: we’re funding all aspects of the federal government, including those parts we don’t like, except for Obamacare. If, on the other hand, this fight devolves into a push for some shiny object, then they should just pass a clean CR and move on.
There is no such thing as lukewarm hell.