Monday, September 23, 2013

Defund It

Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz
image from here
I’m on Team Ted Cruz/Mike Lee/Marco Rubio on defunding Obamacare—even if the other side threatens to shut down the government and blame Republicans for it.

The House, where government funding originates, has done its job and put through a continuing resolution (before the current one expires September 30, since the Senate has refused to pass an actual budget for years) that continues current funding through mid-December, with no changes—except without funding for Obamacare. It’s particularly important to defund NOW, because key provisions kick in October 14. It has to be stopped.
I could spend a very long post enumerating the anti-American, harmful effects to health care and the entire economy, but I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you already have an adequate list of your own. We all know the ironically named Affordable Care Act makes medical care less affordable and less available—while giving all kinds of intimate control over our lives to cold, distant bureaucrats. Nothing about the thousands of pages in the bill, and the hundreds of thousands of additional regulations, can be identified as an improvement over what we had--which had plenty of problems mainly caused by separation from market forces. I don’t think we can even give the bill and regulation writers the assumption that they meant well.
So, since we’re agreed on that—and a solid majority of Americans are agreed that the whole thing needs to be scrapped—the question at hand is how to put a stop to it. Before all our freedom options are done away.
In an ideal world—well, in an ideal world, this would never have been proposed, let along been passed; and in an ideal world the Supreme Court would never have stretched the Constitution beyond breaking point to declare this monstrosity lawful. But in a hypothetical ideal world, what should happen next is that the Senate should agree to the continuing resolution minus Obamacare spending. Let’s say that would happen. Then the spending bill would go to the president for a signature. In an ideal world (so, one with a different president), the president would see that the American people have spoken—loudly—through their representatives, that they do not want this bill, so he would acquiesce and sign the defunded bill. And then he’d go ahead and encourage Congress to vote to repeal (again for the House, but the Senate is the bottleneck).
But since this isn’t an ideal world, what can we expect in the Senate? That depends on how much fight the Republicans have in them—and add to that a little bit of worry among Democrats about the heavy anti-Obamacare majorities among voters. Do they want to kill their careers over this extremely unpopular monstrosity, just because their Democrat president says they have to?
Democrats have the majority. So much is in their hands. As it was, entirely, when the bill passed in 2010.
At this past Saturday’s local Tea Party meeting, one of our speakers was Paul Bettencourt, the Tax Man. He used to be Harris County Tax Assessor. Currently he’s running for Dan Patrick’s state senate seat (the large and conservative District 7) while Dan Patrick runs against David Dewhurst for state Lieutenant Governor. Bettencourt also has a gig on the radio (the Dan Patrick owned AM 700 The Voice in Texas), talking about taxes and politics. We know in Texas we have Ted Cruz on our side. John Cornyn, who is more long-time establishment, was a question. But Bettencourt said they had Senator Cornyn on the radio, pressed him pretty hard, and believe he has now committed to vote for defunding.
I have since seen a fair amount of corroboration from Senator Cornyn. He has made the declaration pretty clearly. This was from his Facebook page this morning: “I intend to support the House bill that defunds Obamacare and will vote against a bill that funds it.” There’s also a piece in the Dallas News on his announcement. A couple of days ago I got a link to sign Cornyn’ petition to defund Obamacare. (I signed it, in addition to the Ted Cruz petition I signed weeks ago, just to make sure Senator Cornyn knew constituents out here back that decision.)
Paul Bettencourt suggested getting hold of friends in other states and encouraging them to contact their senators, to encourage them to vote in favor of the continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare (which, for technical procedural reasons, also includes standing firm against a cloture vote).
If nothing else, one thing that the vote should do is, as Bettencourt put it, “put jerseys on every senator,” so you know what team they’re on. That gives some significant leverage in the next election.
If, by some miracle, we were able to get to the point where there is a choice between defunding Obamacare or shutting down the government—the very thing establishment Republicans fear—that would be a great blessing. The fear comes from what happened in 1995, with the government shutdown during Clinton’s term. It was a public relations nightmare for Republicans. The GOP got blamed for everything from shutting down national parks to starving children.
But PR isn’t everything. We need a reminder of what actually happened back in 1995.
Bettencourt recounted a part of the story I hadn’t known. On Sunday, the 21st day of the shutdown, Senate leader Bob Dole caved. He had been worried about his image, since he was thinking of running for president. What he didn’t know was that Clinton had already decided to fold on Monday, the 22nd day of the strike.
Had Dole waited, the GOP would have won the entire battle. But even as it was, Clinton took on welfare reform—claimed it as his own, but we got it, so that was a win.
Last time around the media portrayed the shutdown as a disaster for the GOP. But it actually wasn’t. In the next election, the GOP won something like six Senate seats and held the House. Clinton kept himself politically afloat only by co-opting GOP policies as his own. Rush Limbaugh reviewed the history a couple of months ago, in anticipation of this week’s showdown--worth reading.
Back then, the media voice for the GOP was very limited. As Rush put it, “In 1995 I was it, as far as conservative media goes. The blogosphere had not come into existence; the Internet was still essentially an infant in this regard. There were no other conservative talk shows. Fox News was still two years away. I was it. It was still a media monopoly: ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Washington Post, New York Times, local news, you name it. I was it.”
That’s what I’ve been thinking. The mainstream media will malign conservatives no matter what we do—even if we played for the media audience by praising Obamacare against all the evidence. MSM is a lose-lose black hole for conservatives. There is no changing that. Nor is there getting through to the uninformed voters, who just don’t pay attention. But we have more media outlets now. The internet is, so far, still a free voice. Fox News isn’t as conservative as the MSM portrays it, but it’s at least not the propaganda arm of the administration. The true story will get out—it will be told to every ear willing to listen.
And what is the worst that can happen from a temporary government shutdown? The president will try to make it as painful as possible—just as with the sequester, where he has cut soldier food in Afghanistan to two cooked meals a day (because there’s not enough money with the sequester temporary cuts in the rate of increase, even though there is plenty for him to use Air Force One to transport his dog to wherever he’s vacationing). He will try to make it appear Republicans are trying to starve children and kill old people—same old same old.
But there are other voices now. And it’s possible that, even with the worst case scenario, people will notice little more than occasional irritations at government—nothing new. And with every painful choice the president makes, there will be new voices pointing out that it was his choice, with the purpose of inflicting pain.
If that’s the worst case scenario, maybe it’s worth finally getting past the fear and standing on principle.
The worst-case scenario if this fails is dire. Business and labor already agree that Obamacare is an abomination. Putting off employer mandates was done for two specific reasons: First, employers couldn’t do it, and the effort threatened to pretty much shutting down the economy that is already (still) floundering under this administration. Second, the worst damage was put off until after the 2014 election, because Democrats would have been demolished by the knowledge that Obamacare was the cause of so much pain.
So even the Democrats realize Obamacare is a gross negative for America. Since we all know that, now is the time to act on that truth.

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