Texas Sen. Ted Cruz went on at extraordinary length — from 2:41 p.m. Tuesday to noon Wednesday — on why and how he wants to “defund” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Before, during and after that talk-a-thon on the Senate floor, he said fellow Republicans who don’t agree on that strategy are “defeatists.”
Actually, they are realists.
And Republicans really control only the House while Democrats really control both the Senate and the White House.
So though the Republican House last week passed a continuing budget resolution excluding Obamacare funding, the Democratic Senate won’t. Even if it did, Democratic President Barack Obama wouldn’t sign it. And without a resolution that he will sign by the time the fiscal year ends at midnight Monday, a partial federal government shutdown will occur.
It’s not defeatism to recognize that reality — or this one:
Turning the Obamcare debate into a shutdown debate changes the nation’s dominant political subject. The proper focus should be on the costly folly of that law, not on a game of shutdown chicken.
Moreover, a shutdown would not stop the flow of federal money needed to impose the Obamacare regulations scheduled to take effect Tuesday, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service reports. Another reality: The biggest obstacles to the implementation of Obamacare are edicts from the Obama administration. The White House, likely with next year’s congressional elections in mind, has issued a proliferating array of Obamacare waivers and exemptions for businesses, unions, and state and municipal governments.
Congress has even gotten a pass of sorts. The law mandated that federal lawmakers and their staffs enroll in the legislation’s insurance exchanges. However, after House and Senate members suffered sticker shock over the looming price tags from that stipulation, many of them sounded a “brain drain” alarm, anticipating a staffer exodus. The administration then ordered the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to contribute a major chunk of the extra expense for the lawmakers and their staffs.
That double standard undermines Obamacare’s credibility. So does persisting bewilderment about the law’s effects over both the long and short terms.
This unhealthy economic side-effect, though, is clear: The business community, wary about the law’s requirements on employers, has increasingly shifted toward part-time workers.
Meanwhile, next week’s convergence of the need for a continuing budget resolution and the implementation of more Obamacare regulations isn’t the only congressional showdown brewing. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned congressional leaders Wednesday that new deadline for raising the debt ceiling to avoid a default of the U.S. government is Oct. 17.
Mr. Obama has recently — and repeatedly — said that he won’t negotiate with House Republicans in exchange for their support of a debt-limit boost.
Yet the president seems quite willing to negotiate with the rulers of Iran, the world’s top state supporter of terrorism, and Syria, which used chemical weapons to slaughter roughly 1,400 civilians last month.
Mr. Obama’s partisan intransigence fuels the fire of conservatives who want to challenge his signature domestic initiative, which they recognize as another massive, unsustainable federal entitlement.
Like it or not, though, the president was re-elected last year, and his party retained control of the Senate.
Sen. Cruz and others make strong arguments against Obamacare’s perils. And if Republicans could block next week’s further implementation of the law, they would be justified in doing so.
But they can’t.
They can and should, however, shine a bright light on the law’s costly consequences. That would help more voters finally see this reality:
The Affordable Care Act is altogether unaffordable.