There may be a chill in the air — but there’s plenty of heat on Capitol Hill. Down to seven days of government cash flow, members of both parties woke up this week in a budget pressure cooker that’s bringing Congress to the brink — again. Republicans argue that the House’s continuing resolution (CR), a political hot potato that landed in the Senate’s lap last Friday, would force the one shutdown most people can agree on: ObamaCare’s. As part of the bargain, conservatives are offering to float the government for three months at a cool $986 billion. “Our message to the United States Senate is real simple,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want ObamaCare.”
Someone had better explain that to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who’s plowing ahead with a vote to strip the House’s language on defunding ObamaCare no matter what the GOP throws his way. While Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) head to their battle stations, Democrats insist their cause is a lost one. Don’t tell that to conservatives, who — spurred on by the energy in the grassroots — are ready to fight with whatever procedural weapons they have to stop Harry Reid from gutting the House’s bill.
Even the President tried to throw cold water on the GOP’s strategy. “[Defunding ObamaCare] is not going to happen… We’re not going to allow anyone to inflict economic pain, on millions of our own people just to make an ideological point.” (This from a man who’s inflicted more economic pain on the nation than the first 41 presidents combined).
In an ironic twist, the President threatened to shut down Washington himself if Congress doesn’t open its wallet wider. Tired of the spending caps from sequestration, the White House and key Democrats are issuing their own threat to load down the CR with millions more dollars. Considering that 58% of Americans support a budget that cuts spending, this may be the subplot to watch as the budget drama unfolds. House conservatives were already planning to take the ObamaCare fight to the debt ceiling if Harry Reid torpedoed their CR strategy. But this new wrinkle — which could pit liberals against more frugal Americans — could change everything.
Meanwhile, with seven days until the first wave of ObamaCare kicks in, the headlines are packed with reasons to stymie the law’s implementation. This morning’s New York Times warns of a shrinking network of doctors, longer patient waiting times, higher out-of-pocket expense, and just general inconvenience. Forbes paints an even gloomier picture. ObamaCare, they write, is “killing traditional employer-sponsored health insurance” — a fact that hundreds of thousands of workers have seen borne out as companies either drop their coverage altogether or dump employees onto the state-run exchanges. And speaking of those state-run exchanges, the Wall Street Journal is already cautioning readers that the policy’s costs are far from universal. “Your prices, your consumer experience will differ dramatically across states or even regions in states,” said one health expert.
Even the Obama administration is doubtful the program is ready for primetime. And if the government isn’t ready, why should taxpayers be? It all makes a pretty compelling case for conservatives, who are doing their best to spare the nation from ObamaCare’s October 1st debut.
Source: Family Research Counci, September, 23, 2013