Monday, September 30, 2013

11th Hour Obamacare Update

Well, I must say I've been pleasantly surprised at the spinal fortitude exhibited by the House Republicans.  They must be getting a long of angry phone calls or something, because this is the first sign of such fortitude in a number of years.  Briefly, here's where we are right now, with some brief commentary from yours truly:
The House late Monday passed yet another proposal to fund the government and undermine ObamaCare, and sent it to the Senate with less than 200 minutes before a partial government shutdown.

Members passed the Republicans' continuing resolution in a 228-201 vote, with 12 Republicans voting no and nine Democrats voting yes. The ObamaCare language was expected to be quickly rejected by the Senate, possibly within the hour, leaving the House and Senate in a stalemate.

The vote carried with it signs that House GOP leaders may be running out of ideas for passing a spending resolution that somehow tweaks ObamaCare. Earlier iterations of the House resolution passed with either two, one or zero "no" votes from Republicans.

Some Republicans decided to oppose the latest measure because it didn't do enough to undermine ObamaCare, while others decided it's time to ignore the healthcare law and pass the clean resolution supported by the Senate in order to keep the government open on Tuesday.
Here's what the third attempt included:
The latest GOP plan would fund the government through mid-December, delay the individual mandate under ObamaCare, and force top government officials to use ObamaCare.

"The Senate is going to have to explain how they defend special treatment for members of Congress, special treatment for big business and special interests," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said after the vote. "This what's at stake here. This is about no special treatment under the law. This is what Harry Reid is going to have to answer to. So we look forward to what the Senate is going to go."

As I mentioned previously, this is a good strategy.  It's going to be just a liiiiiittle bit interesting to watch a bunch of Democrats -- especially in red or purple states -- try to defend these exemptions and refusals to delay what everyone knows is a train wreck.  I predict they'll sidestep such explanations entirely.  Republicans should force them to answer, bringing it up again and again.

Anyway, let's move on:
As the Senate prepared to defeat the GOP amendments, Republicans were expected to meet at 11 p.m. to figure out its next step.
Um...why?  They've passed three different bills specifically intended to fund every bit of government that the Democrats want...except for a fiscally and Constitutionally destructive law that most Americans don't way anyway.

Do they really need to try a fourth time?

Seems like the game of chicken is escalating:
"This is an issue of fairness," said Boehner, who spoke twice on the floor. "How can we give waivers and breaks to all the big union guys out there, how do we give a break to all the big businesses out there, and yet stick our constituents with a bill that they don't want and a bill they can't afford?"

Boehner said he and President Obama spoke by phone tonight, and that Obama told him, "I'm not going to negotiate. I'm not going to negotiate, I'm not going to do this."

"Well, I would say to the president, this is not about me, and it's not about Republicans here in Congress," Boehner said. "It's about fairness to the American people."

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) replied that the essence of Democracy is that laws treat everyone equally, something he said the Obama administration has failed to ensure.

"There should be no special treatment for big business. There should be no special treatment for members of Congress," Cantor said.

"There should be no special treatment for anyone under the law."

Honestly, I don't think the Dems are going to be all that upset if no agreement is reached.  They think the American people will blame the Republicans, that pressure will increase exponentially if the shutdown actually occurs, and that they'll end up getting everything they want in addition to the GOP getting a massive PR failure to explain.

The only realistic course the GOP has now is to persevere and go on the attack.  If there's a shutdown, so be it.  Get every member of the GOP out there everywhere at every opportunity reminding the American people that they gave Obama and the Democrats three chances to avoid the shutdown but instead chose to back an unfair law that most Americans don't want.  This is the truth, and the exact message that must get out.  It is Obama who refused to negotiate, not them.  It is the Senate Democrats who took the day off, not the House Republicans.

Speaking of a shutdown, what actually gets shut downNot as much as you'd think:
The truth from the experience of prior shutdowns, applicable federal laws, Justice Department legal opinions, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directives, is that crucial government services and benefits would continue without interruption even if Congress fails to agree on a continuing resolution (CR) or President Obama vetoes it. That includes all services essential for national security and public safety — such as the military and law enforcement — as well as mandatory government payments such as Social Security and veterans’ benefits.

In fact, as the Justice Department said in a legal opinion in 1995, “the federal government will not be truly ‘shut down’ . . . because Congress has itself provided that some activities of Government should continue.” Any claim that not passing a CR would result in a “shutting down” of the government “is an entirely inaccurate description,” according to the Justice Department.
A 1981 memorandum by David Stockman during the Reagan administration that is still relied on by the OMB laid out the services that continue without interruption during any government “shutdown”:
  • National security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security or the safety of life and property;
  • Benefit payments and the performance of contract obligations under no-year or multi-year appropriations or other funds remaining available for those purposes;
  • Medical care of inpatients and emergency outpatient care and activities essential for the safe use of food, drugs, and hazardous materials;
  • Air-traffic control and other transportation safety functions;
  • Border and coastal protection and surveillance;
  • Protection of federal lands, buildings, waterways, and other property of the U.S.;
  • Care of prisoners and others in federal custody;
  • Law enforcement and criminal investigations;
  • Emergency and disaster assistance;
  • Activities essential to the preservation of the money and banking system of the U.S., including borrowing and tax collection;
  • Production of power and maintenance of the power-distribution system; and
  • Protection of research property.
Well, we're dealing with real people, so how about some real numbers?  Okay, here you go (emphasis mine):
It is certainly true that “nonessential” federal employees will be furloughed. But so many federal employees are considered “essential” that when President Bill Clinton vetoed a CR in November 1995 in a dispute with Newt Gingrich over a balanced budget and welfare reform, only about 800,000 out of a total of almost 4.5 million federal employees were furloughed. In a second funding gap from December 1995 to January 1996, only about 300,000 employees were furloughed. So the vast majority of federal workers will keep right on working.

National parks probably will be closed because they are not considered “essential,” and there is little doubt that President Obama will shut down other highly visible (but nonessential) government offices in order to annoy as many members of the ordinary public as possible, while shifting the blame for the shutdown to Republicans and away from his unreasonable refusal to negotiate.
Yeah, it sucks for those non-essential people.  They're almost certainly just like you and me, getting up every day and trying to do their jobs.  However, when taken on balance against the permanent destruction of the economy and freedom of individual responsibility that will inevitably occur if Obamacare wins the day, I'm sorry.  It must happen.

Might I remind you that it is Barack Obama and the Democrats who are refusing to negotiate and do their jobs.

If you're one of those unfortunate Federal workers suddenly out of a them.

By the way, here are the 17 other times there has been a government "shutdown:"

We seem to have survived those, have we not?  We'll survive this.

We won't survive Obamacare, at least not as the America we know and love. 

Let's just hope the GOP stands firm for a change...

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