Friday, September 27, 2013

A Quick Obamacare Update

The Senate passed the House CR without the Obamacare defunding measure.  So, what happens next?

The short version is that it will now go back to the House for a re-vote.  If they pass it as-is, then it will be official and get sent to the White House for Obama's signature, and it's all over.  House Republican Majority Leader John Boehner has previously pledged not to even allow a vote on the bill if that's what Harry Reid did, so theoretically there is now a stand-off that could potentially result in the much-dreaded government shutdown next week.


There's a lot of fear-mongering about the global catastrophe of what might happen if there is such a shutdown.  A lot of smart people differ on their opinions, and I don't honestly know enough about it to speak intelligently in terms of a knowledgeable recommendation.  Just between you and me, with as much damage as has been done to this country by this government over the past few years, I'd say that the less Congress does, the better off we all are.

Anyway, the heat now needs to be turned up on your House Representative.  They're going to be hashing this out -- proposing, debating, and discarding deal after deal -- all weekend.  You can find your Representative's contact information here.  There are a number of possibilities of what may come out of those negotiations, given that the Republicans have a pretty sizable majority in the House.  Boehner could hold firm, playing chicken until the end, and let the chips fall where they may in the event of a shutdown.  He may cut a deal to remove some ugly pieces of Obamacare -- like the exemption for Congress and their staffers -- that are politically untenable for the American people on both sides of the aisle in exchange for some modest budget cuts or something along those lines.  Or, he could cave entirely and give the Democrats exactly what they want.

Based on experience, I'd say he's likely to land somewhere between the last two.  It's almost inconceivable that Boehner would stand firm in this game of chicken; he has not done so on anything of significance for years.  Think of it like France and Germany - France may talk tough, but if Germany looks mean in its direction, it'll fall in line real quick.  That's how Boehner has been with the Democrats.  They may throw him a few crumbs (that they will likely take back later anyway) to let him have something to brag about in the name of bipartisanship, but ultimately I would be shocked -- happily so, but shocked nonetheless -- if he displayed anything resembling a spine on this.  My best guess is he'll say that the CR isn't the fight he wants to pick, and he'll instead target the debt limit measure coming up very soon, and at that point he'll cave entirely.

In my opinion, the only chance to genuinely put the brakes on Obamacare rests on putting enough pressure on enough other Republican Congressman that Boehner essentially gets outvoted by his own party.  We'll know in a few days...until then, call and email, call and email, call and email!!!

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