The House plans to pass a bill to raise the debt limit by $117 billion, bringing the new deadline to November 22. The bill will specifically prohibit the Treasury Department from using extraordinary measures to concoct an arbitrary crisis deadline.
Conservatives can debate the prudence of this particular strategy, but the more important question is what comes after the vote on this bill. The establishment has been trying to conflate the budget battle with the debt ceiling and transform our priorities into extraneous policy issues that are not nearly as serious and as pressing as Obamacare.
Now they have no excuse to ignore the Obamacare fight.
[Parenthetically, this delay should also preclude any effort to bring up amnesty this year.]
Once the debt ceiling is pushed into November, Republicans must all unite behind full defunding of Obamacare. No talk about taxes, Social Security, or Medicare. No talk about a grand bargain or vague fiscal agreements. With premiums skyrocketing, implementation of Obamacare crashing, and massive dependency right around the corner, we don’t have time for other policy fights. This is the one the public sees most, and this is the one we must message throughout the Democrat shutdown.
Our message is very simple: this law was passed using the budget process to circumvent a higher vote threshold. Now that the law is proven to be unworkable, it will be uprooted through the budget process. We are willing to fund every other aspect of government, including those functions we oppose, except for Obamacare and the agencies tasked with enforcing it.
Unfortunately, there are those in the party who are not only distracting us with other issues but are also watering down our messaging on Obamacare. Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins are committed to making this fight about repealing the medical device tax. Obviously, the end-point of the negotiations would be a mere delay of that tax.
Although this is a harmful tax, it doesn’t cut to the core of Obamacare. The entire law needs to be defunded, and at the very least, delayed. Obamacare is not just about the cost of the health insurance. The 159 boards, agencies, and programs created by the law completely interrupt the delivery of healthcare and destroy the doctor-patient relationship. This is about our entire healthcare system, not just the cost. Focusing on the medical device tax, while leaving the rest of the law intact, is like failing to remove a brain tumor but taking solace in setting a broken ankle on the same patient.
If conservatives are willing to give some leeway on a temporary increase in the debt ceiling, leadership must begin refocusing on defunding Obamacare. Otherwise, they should just pass a long-term CR and debt limit increase, and go home.