The wisdom of the Cruz strategy is being widely criticized today (9/23). It is being measured against some theoretical ideal rather than the real world alternatives. We can only choose between the options actually available to us.
What are those choices? We can do nothing. Or, we can patiently wait for the expiration of the president’s term, hoping to then persuade the voters to disassemble a program three years deep in beneficiaries. A third option; wait for Obamacare to fall of its’ own weight. With due respect to Charles Krauthammer, public dissatisfaction may effect some piecemeal reforms, but not a major policy reversal.
Medicare’s actual cost for the first twenty-five years vastly exceeded the initial projections, totaling nearly 750 percent of the 9 billion dollar estimated cost and it was never in danger of falling of its own weight. Over time, opposition morphed into discontent and ultimately resignation. It always does.
The real question is not whether the Cruz option will work. It is whether it had the best prospect of success among the alternatives currently available to us.
The prospect of repealing Obamacare (or curtailing it’s grandiose overreach) was largely settled in the 2012 election. Republicans entrusted their opposition to a good man, who was, unfortunately, the inspiration for the progressive version of health care reform. The preamble to every question asked about his opposition to Obamacare referenced Romneycare. Romney was continually explaining that Obamacare was really not Romneycare and that failures in Massachusetts were actually successes. Republican senatorial candidates underperformed.
Today’s hand-wringing is a bit overblown. If Senator Reid succeeds in returning a bill to the House with Obamacare funding intact, Republicans can (and might) approve the CR. If so, the sequester will remain intact and Harry Reid will own much of the continuing bad news associated with the implementation of the ACA. Two, President Obama may capitulate and make modest concessions including, perhaps, a delay in enforcing the individual mandate.
If the House Republicans choose door #3, (vote against) their position should be “We would prefer that the president negotiate in good faith. While we abhor the prospect of a government shutdown;, if presented with only two bad options, the harm of implementing and funding Obamacare, as is, is far more destructive to the economy than a short-term suspension of government services.”
Senator Cruz did not sabotage some grand insider strategy that was working perfectly and destined to disable Obamacare. It was a calculated risk. If it doesn’t work, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have positioned themselves to take the hit; which would make them wrong, not unprincipled. The critics should dial the outrage back a bit.