The Aftermath of Defund
“These guys can’t count.” The defund effort was labeled as everything from straight up stupidity to a well-meaning but misguided effort to overturn the ACA. But Senator Cruz never suggested that he had votes to pass the bill or to prevent cloture. His willingness to press on suggests that he grasped the big picture all along.
Obamacare is going to survive in some form. The question is whether it survives as an emaciated carcass or as a gluttonous monument to the entitlement culture. President Obama is not one, given to compromise. But this time he has as much to lose politically as the Republicans do. Although he might think a government shutdown is a victory, he can’t really be sure. Obamacare, then survives as the unfolding catastrophe it is already proving to be. How is he better off? At days end, he just needs something called Obamacare, not necessarily Obamacare as we know it.
So, what really happened ? The Republicans gained some leverage to effect meaningful cuts to Obamacare and to guide the reform. That leverage is relatively short-lived. Come January 1, 2014 Obamacare will have beneficiaries (those who qualify for subsidies and those seeking coverage previously unavailable to them). The advantage shifts back to the Democrats in January
I’ve never had much confidence in the ability of Republicans to play a winning hand. That said, the playing field is more level today than it has been in a long time. The country is listening now.
The Democrats strategy will be predictable, the usual class warfare. Are republican politicians prepared for Act Two? Live performance is make or break. Back in the Republican debates, Herman Cain wasn’t prepared for a question on Libya. It was an unforced error. Likewise, Rick Perry was unable to recall one of his own talking points. I’m sure fatigue and nerves factored in. Defund is no symbolic pinprick. There is a real chance to roll back some of the ACA and the leadership will have to be at the top of their game.
How should Republicans present to the country? Three points; first, Trust us, we have been right all along. The Class Act did prove financially unviable and was repealed. A bipartisan consensus agrees the medical device tax is counterproductive. Individual premiums have not fallen by $2500.00 (In fact, the reverse is true). Insurance companies are fleeing unattractive markets (i.e. California, Georgia) etc. etc. There are examples upon examples.
Second, the Democrats argument is that ‘any benefit is desirable at any cost.’ Ergo, it is more important to implement Obamacare than it is to fix it. The costs are what they are. The government can choose not to pay the full cost (via rationing), but once the costs are incurred they must be paid. Government obligations are met in one of three ways, through taxation, borrowing or by printing money. If this program is not self-sustaining now (at the most favorable projections), it will never achieve solvency in the out years.
Finally, Republicans will proceed in a thoughtful and restrained manner. Some Medicaid reform is necessary. There are problems with guaranteed issue. But it is not necessary to commandeer a sixth of the economy to address them.
I was raised a Cub’s fan so I’ve learned to restrain my optimistic impulses, but I think the right path was chosen and it might work out. I agree with an observation by westcoastpatriette than there is some support from Democrats in the weeds. If a stripped CR bill makes it back to the House, I think we will see some Democratic support for reform via amendments.
** I haven’t been a big fan of John Boehner, but he should be commended today.**