Republicans oppose ObamaCare. That’s no secret. But there seems to be some conflicting ideas among Republicans about how that opposition should be played out on Capitol Hill.
For example, the House GOP establishment had, until this week, wanted to hold votes on two bills: one that could potentially defund ObamaCare, and a separate bill that would keep the government funded after this month. This was the expected path, the path of GOP reason and “compromise” according to the media and Democrats.
It’s hardly a spirited opposition, though, as it does absolutely nothing to impede the Democrat endgame. The Senate could simply ignore the bill to defund ObamaCare, pass the bill to provide stopgap spending to keep the government running, and send the latter to the White House for signing.
Conservatives less interested in pre-emptive capitulation to Democrats, however, have suggested there be a vote on a single bill which would both defund ObamaCare and provide the stopgap spending to keep the government funded. Want to keep the government running? So do we. Just defund the bill, granting all Americans the courtesy of a waiver from ObamaCare — you know, like the one Congress worked so diligently to grant itself.
And surprisingly, House majority leader John Boehner has finally endorsed the latter strategy, saying that “[t]he law’s a train wreck. It’s time to protect working families from this unworkable law.”
This is an “undoubtedly risky” strategy, says Fox News. Obama and Reid have “warned Republicans not to go down that road, suggesting they will bear the brunt of blame if the gambit results in government shutdown.”
Yes, yes, we’ve heard it before. If Republicans don’t consent to raising the limit on the national credit card, the world will end and all that. But then, Republicans are willing to raise the limit under certain conditions, aren’t they? So why a government shutdown would be singularly Republicans’ fault in this particular instance is a bit of a mystery. Allowing the government to shut down because of ideological conviction against the health care bill isn’t really at all different from allowing the government to shut down because of the left’s ideological conviction in favor of it.
But all this fanciful and formulaic rhetoric we are hearing from Democrats aside, why might conservatives deride such efforts to defund ObamaCare, and prefer the path of “compromise”? It’s ObamaCare, after all. Securing representatives that would fight it tooth and nail was what the culling of Democrats in 2010 was all about.
Because it’s an unwinnable fight, venerable conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer posits. He says:
It is not going to happen. It is absolutely not going to happen. Obama is invested in this, it’s his signature achievement. For Democrats, it’s an historic achievement. It’s their road to national health care. It passed the House. It passed the Senate. Signed by the president and Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality. They are not going to give it up. What might happen, what might happen is that it could be such a catastrophe, so many Americans could be hurt by it and then begin to really strongly oppose it. Right now they’re opposing the idea of Obamacare, but not so much the reality. It could collapse on its own.
In other words, Democrats are going to fight too hard for this one, so maybe the House shouldn’t waste its time making legal budget propositions to defund it. Better to let them have it and hope that it “might” be such a catastrophe that people wake up and get really mad.
Let’s assume for a moment that Krauthammer is right — that defunding ObamaCare is simply impossible, and it will never work. Does that mean there is no value in taking up the fight? Sometimes, fighting a losing battle based on principle and in selfless dedication to what is right — and being seen doing it, à la Ted Cruz — can be rousing for a political cause.
And if Krauthammer is also right in his hopeful prediction that ObamaCare will be crushed by its own immense size and economically destructive makeup, what harm is there, then, in being among the voices that have been heralding that horrible outcome while fighting to protect Americans from it? Wouldn’t Republicans then have more credibility with the American people for having done so?
I think they would. But the real reason ObamaCare must be fought at every turn is that Krauthammer is probably wrong. Not about it being an unwinnable battle — it may very well be. But if history is any measure, he’s probably wrongfully optimistic about ObamaCare’s potential to be reversed after its continued implementation.
Why? Barack Obama explains (emphasis added):
JOSE DIAZ-BALART, TELEMUNDO: The Affordable Care Act takes effect next month, The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Americans oppose it, believing it will produce damaging results. Fifty-two percent believe the law will raise their health care costs. Is everybody wrong?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes, they are.
OBAMA: The problem we have is that over the last four years billions of dollars have been spent misinforming people about what this law is about. All of the horror stories that were talked about have not come true. It is going to be a good deal and we expect that once it is fully implemented — a year from now, two years from now, five years from now — people will look back and, they’ll be asking what was the argument about. Why is everybody fighting this so much?
With each day passing, with each new provision carefully selected for implementation, ObamaCare becomes more and more a staple in American life. Barack Obama is counting on that. Because time normalizes even the most malignant social entitlement program. As to why this is so, that is perhaps best explained by Mark Steyn:
Entitlements are the death of responsible government: they offend against every republican precept. Regardless of government revenues or broader economic conditions, they “mandate” spending: they are thus an offense against one of the most basic democratic principles– that a parliament cannot bind its successors. In a sense, they negate the American revolution. They are taxation without representation — for, as we well know, no matter how the facts on the ground evolve over the decades, entitlements are insulated from both parliamentary procedure and election results.
There is no question — we are financially crippled today by such massive social redistribution programs as Social Security, Medicare, and our growing web of federal welfare schemes. But that doesn’t matter. These entitlements are virtually untouchable by legislators today or tomorrow. Because history shows that once people start collecting benefits from the government, they want to keep collecting benefits from the government. Who’s paying for the benefits, and how much they are paying at any given time after an entitlement becomes an expectation, is irrelevant.
The coerced redistribution of wealth as government charity becomes the norm, however grossly antithetical that idea is to that archaic concept known as “liberty.”
And two, five, ten, a hundred years hence, the opiated rabble of the future will indeed wonder what the fuss was all about in 2013. Quickly will they forget about a time when the government was not the mediator, deciding what health care may be delivered to whom, when it can be delivered, and at what cost.
In the event that our country continues to exist under these conditions, it will be anything but the America we know today. Considering what’s at stake, it is only logical that conservatives ask their representatives to employ any and all legal measures to thwart ObamaCare — spirit of “compromise” be damned.