Will The GOP Back Away From Using The Budget To Attack The PPACA?
Republicans don't seem willing to let go of the Obamacare issue just yet. But, how long will that actually last?
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy made clear this morning that the House of Representatives would continue its efforts to chip away at the Affordable Care Act if the Senate rejects the Continuing Resolution passed last night:
The third-ranking House Republican said Sunday that if the Senate rejects the short-term spending bill the House just passed that takes aim at Obamacare, the House will promptly move to pass another bill that would change the health-care law.
“We will pass a bill, if the Senate does what you think they will do, that will keep the government open, that will reflect the House, that I believe the Senate can accept, that will have fundamental changes in Obamacare that can protect the economy,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
The government will partially shut down if lawmakers cannot strike a deal by the end of Monday. The House early Sunday passed a stopgap spending bill that would delay Obamacare by a year and repeal the medical device tax. The Democratic Senate has vowed to reject it. That will probably happen on Monday.
McCarthy refused to rule out passing a short-term continuing resolution that would keep the government running for days as negotiations continue.
So, what could we expect to see if, as expected, the Senate rejects the new House CR? National Review’s Robert Costa covered that question last night, passing along reports that the House might consider a CR that includes a bar on the “exemption” that Members of Congress and their staffs received earlier this year:
First, the House passes a CR today that delays Obamacare’s implementation for one year and repeals the medical-device tax. This legislation will almost certainly die a quick death in the Senate.
Should that happen, the House will send another bill back. The leadership is mulling several options. At the top of the list is a revised CR that includes the Vitter amendment, authored by Senator David Vitter (R., La.), which would eliminate Obamacare subsidies for congressional staffers and members.
The leadership thinks that a final CR with Vitter’s language would put them on solid political ground, even if Senate Democrats resist. In that scenario, and the government shut down, Republicans would argue that Democrats shut down the government to protect their perks.
The leadership also believes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would feel pressure to take up such legislation, especially from red-state Democrats who are up for reelection next year.
National Journal’s Matt Berman discusses some of those same options in a report this morning, but points out that it’s still hard to see how the Senate folds:
Those “fundamental changes” have a few obvious possibilities. The House could pass a CR that includes just a medical device tax repeal, or an individual-mandate delay. Or, as National Review‘s Robert Costa reported on Saturday, it could include a version of the Vitter amendment, which wouldeliminate health care subsidies for members of Congress, their staff, and members of the executive branch.
Right now, it’s hard to see how a House CR that includes any of these provisions could hold off a government shutdown. The Senate and White House are virtually sure to refuse a CR that includes an individual mandate delay, and a medical device tax repeal—which would cost $29 billion over a decade according to the Congressional Budget Office—could be a tough climb there as well.
It’s not even clear that these “fundamental changes” would be able to get through the House, as powerful conservative groups like Heritage Action are already coming out and saying that they wouldn’t support something like a medical device tax repeal, as it would “do nothing to prevent the law’s entitlements from taking root and continues funding Obamacare in its entirety.”
The bigger point, I think, is that the GOP is basically slowly backing away from the hardline position represented by people like Ted Cruz. Long before we got to this point, they House voted some 40-50 times to repeal Obamacare in whole or in part. Not surprisingly, those efforts went nowhere in the Senate, most not even getting a vote and the ones that did come up being voted down by a united Democratic majority. In 2012, they campaigned on the idea of repealing the law, not an inadvisable strategy given the fact that polling both then and new shows that the public remains intensely negative about the law even as we begin to approach the time when it will start to go into effect. The voters, of course, decided to vote for the candidate who supports the PPACA, not the candidate who opposed it and advocated repealing it.
Now, let’s look at what happened over the past several months.
At the beginning, when people on the right were just whispering about at “Defund Obamacare” approach to the budget, House Leadership was pushing back against the idea and instead suggesting that the party use other means to try to gain traction on the health care issue. The issue also threatened to create a rift among Republicans on the Hill, with even veteran fiscal conservatives like Tom Coburn speaking out against it. Additionally, polling showed public opposition to the shutdown plan that Cruz and others were proposing, even among Republicans. Nonetheless, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Ted Cruz and the “grassroots” organizations behind the defund idea, pressure began to build on Speaker Boehner and the House Leadership to take on the Obamacare issue as part of the Continuing Resolution needed to find the government after September 30th. So, they passed a Continuing Resolution that included “defunding” Obamacare. Leaving aside the fact that this defunding move would actually have don e very little to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, that measure was unsurprisingly rejected by the Senate. Now, in response to that rejection, the House has passed a bill that includes, among other things, a provision to delay implementation of the law for a year. Majority Leader Reid has already made clear that this bill will also not make it through the Senate. In response, McCarthy is offering the possibility of yet a third CR that basically would only nip at the heels of the law. Over the course of ten days, then, the House has consistently backed away from its most extreme position — from defund to delay and, now, to minor provisions — an action that suggests that the House leadership clearly doesn’t want to shut the government down, but that they know they wouldn’t be able to get a CR through the House with a majority of Republican votes without including something about Obamacare. Given that, why would the Senate accept the third CR any more than they’d accept the first and second? Based on how the House has acted, it seems logical to conclude that, eventually, we’ll see a “clean” CR from the House, even if it means relying on Democratic votes to help pass it. The only real question is how long it will take to get to that point.
Given how the House leadership has acted, it strikes me that they’ve been engaging in a game that is as much meant to placate the base of the GOP as anything else. At some point, I suppose, they are hoping that the Tea Party Caucus, or whatever its called at this point, will see the light, recognize that further efforts to attack Obamacare via Continuing Resolution or even the debt ceiling is going to be fruitless, and move on to the next battle. How long it will take to get there is anyone’s guess.
Hmmm, I don’t remember reading anything in the Constitution about the “Hastert rule”.
But because of it, we are allowing a small portion (maybe as few as 80 or 90 Tea Party Reps) of one half of one of the 3 branches of government to shut down everything unless their irrational and unreasonable demands are met … probably causing real damage to the overall economy, and definitely causing short-term pain to millions of hard-working families.
But hey “both sides do it” and “If the President would only lead … “
The fundamentalist psyche takes a long time to break — if nothing else, it’s quite good at elaborate defenses.
It will not end until Obama is out of office. At least.
If half of those opposed actually want to improve Obamacare…and not eliminate it…then that makes you…what? Intellectually dishonest? A hack? A liar?
One thing is clear, Republicans have done every thing they can to avoid, obstruct, or otherwise interfere with implementation of ACA, and now they’re saying that their interference and obstruction is evidence of the failure of ACA.
They are pigs at the trough, this is malevolent chutzpah.
Ah, you see, there’s the tell. Logical for whom? Republican representatives must guard their right flank from the extremist activists drunk on Fox*. Logically, should the calculation is their seat vs. crashing the government, well, the public be damned.
This is the logical outcome of an ideology that recognizes only the individual, never the public.
*The media empires of the Right profit from extremism and chaos. Logically, what do you suppose they will promote?
Because, Todd, that miniscule amount of representatives actually represents approximately 300 million Americans. Have you not read Jenos, JKB, and that one odd fellow who is obsessed with truck drivers? (“Grumpy” I think, but am too lazy to find his name).
It’s a secret real majority that has just been super quiet until now. And inexplicably voted for more Democratic Representatives than Republicans, and put Obama back in the White House, and kept the Democrats in the Senate. They are a mysterious bunch, that secret quiet conservative majority that definitely exists.
I thought the Vitter Amendment was to exempt DC prostitutes from the ACA and make their healthcare the personal responsibility of their individual Senators. Please check this for me.
Doug, put plainly, you’re either a liar or an idiot. You know quite well that many of the people “opposed” to the law (i) have no real idea of its provisions, (ii) actually support most of the individual parts of Obamacare but claim not to like the program as a whole due to conservative misinformation, and/or (iii) are “opposed” from the left because they actually want the program to go even further than it does.
Since this has been pointed out to you numerous times, I have to conclude you no longer have the benefit of the idiot defense and are instead a deliberate liar.
The “unpopularity” of “Obamacare” is mostly misrepresentarion.
A majority opposes repeal. That is the first bottom line.
An overwhelming majority opposes shutdown. That is the second bottom line.
@john personna & @Rafer Janders (and the others who have brought this up in the past):
Look, like it or not, what Doug is saying, while superficial in terms of analysis, is factually correct. Generally speaking the public currently has a negative opinion of “Obamacare.”
Yes, when you dig into the numbers you find a lot of reasons for that (many listed above and in other posts). But the central fact still remains that if you poll people on what they think of “Obamacare” the general feedback is negative.
The fact that every defense of the law against the polls has to essentially begin with a “but…” tells you that the President and his supporters have (temporarily) lost this particular battle.
And for as much as one can take aim at Conservative misinformation, the fact is that the Administration has done a TERRIBLE job of confronting the criticism/selling the plan to the American public. And the blame for that #PRFail! has got to be laid directly at the feet of the President.
What remains to be seen is how polling shifts as more aspects of the law come into play. But the fact is the ACA is starting with a very low public approval rating. Time will tell how the opinion of it will shift.
James, Doug: I will pay handsomely in the single figures if you were to publicize OTB as “Superficial but factually correct.” May as well get it out in the open, and let the free market determine whether people want this product.
But Doug is using this “superficially correct” nugget to support a claim it doesn’t actually support (that running to block ObamaCare is a winning strategy).
If someone uses a technically accurate piece of information in order to mislead the recipient, we call that lying.
“Will The GOP Back Away From Using The Budget To Attack The PPACA?”
Wrong question Doug. There is no way Boehner is going to get a majority of Republicans to vote for a clean bill. The real question is:
How long will it take for Boehner to ditch the “Hastert Rule?”
Can you point out where Doug has specifically argued what you claim he’s arguing (i.e. that this is a “winning strategy” for the GOP)? Seriously, as I don’t see that reflected in any of his writing on the subject.
How is he misleading the recipient? “Obamacare” as named does not *currently* poll well.
Yes, its individual parts may poll better. And, yes, the “Affordable Care Act” polls better. But, last I checked, neither was *significantly* better. And the issue is that people *don’t* think of the act as either its parts or as the “ACA.” The Obama Administration (and again, I voted for the guy and would again), is that they have utterly failed to win enough hearts and minds on this. Yes, I realize it was the harder battle — but still, this is the man praised for his 3D chess skills.
Ultimately, I expect that history will be very kind on this point. But he has to govern in the present.
Also, the entire “Liberals don’t like it because it doesn’t go far enough” line of thought tends to miss the rather powerful effect of the first four words of the sentence “Liberals don’t like it…” In this one respect, Liberals have done as much damage to the promotion of the President’s signature legislative achievement as the Tea Party Conservatives have done to the strategic prospects of the Republican party.
This gets to an important point that keeps being missed in the Obama doesn’t negotiate line of thought. Why the heck should Obama work to negotiate with a representative who cannot control his caucus?
People forget that at least Tip O’Neill was capable of delivering a unified party vote when a compromise deal was brokered. The very fact that Boehner pivoted at the last minute and opted to tie the Continuing Spending Resolution to defunding the ACA — and was willing to commit the potential political suicide of a prolonged Government Shutdown — tells us a lot about his overall inability to control the hard right section of his Caucus (let alone influence the Hard Right people in the Senate).
The only way out is breaking the Hastert rule. I don’t see the ~80 TP hardliners in the House responding to government shutdown.
It’s really only a question of how long before someone in the Republican leadership breaks.
Again the 2012 presidential election was the real honest referendum on Obamacare.
Then too polling, if you chose your polls right, seemed to say Obama and Obamacare would go down. Except when push came to shove, and the details were debated, the public liked the details and Romney had no alternative. That was the reason Romney had to back off an attack in Obamacare. It was a loser for him.
Now, some attempt to relitigate the election based on push polls and the vague feel that Obamacare is worse than the ACA.
I certainly do not buy that, and yes the 44 to 38 percent majority that NOW opposes repeal is a more direct measure of who does and does not support repeal.
Also note that a majority oppose repeal and a majority “dislike” in some framings is consistent with the reminders above that some of the “dislikes” want more not less government healthcare.
It is distortion to call more-votes as repeal-votes.
Should the readers who choose to spend their time on this website be offered up superficial analysis? Or should OTB be striving — and succeeding — to offer up something more than superficial, misleading analysis?
I mean, if “technically true but collectively nonsense” is THE DEFENSE, well, I don’t know why people should stick around for that.
Man was that guy a lunatic. “800 million semi trucks clogged D.C. last month!”
He made JKB look smart by comparison.
Another poll with the direct question says keep Obamacare (49/44).
Is Obamacare “popular?” is not a substitute for “repeal?” let alone “shutdown?”
I think this is a bit of an overstatement. Without a doubt the election was a referendum on the president’s policies — of which Obamacare was one. But I think to suggest that its always a poor idea to boil something down to a single issue.
Again, I am not attempting to suggest that I think the Republicans are doing “the will” of the people. I think connecting polls with policy is a bad idea in general for any number of reasons.
But the fact is people, in aggregate (a) don’t have a high opinion of the legislation and (b) don’t want it repealed. See Kaiser’s monthly polling (among others) to see this continually bared out:
That polling shows just how effective the misinformation campaign has been.
52% thinks the law Creates a new government run insurance plan to be offered along with private plans
43% thinks the law Allows undocumented immigrants to receive financial help from the government to buy health insurance
42% thinks the law Establishes a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare
42% thinks the law Cuts benefits for people in the traditional Medicare program
No wonder 43% have an unfavorable view of the law, pretty much that exact same percent believe these lies that were intentionally spread by the opponents of the law.
I thought the Republicans picked Obamacare as their theme for 2012. That’s what made it a referendum.
@john personna: the Republicans then nominated the guy who designed and implemented ObamaCare in Massachusetts. I have no idea what intellectual hopscotch half the voters used to distinguish the candidates there.
I wouldn’t be surprised if many thought that they were choosing RomneyCare over ObamaCare, even if they were essentially the same thing and Romney was pretending he didn’t implement it.
To some degree I agree. The Conservative Noise Machine has been out in force against this for years.
However, I think its also fair to say it also demonstrates how *ineffective* the President and his allies education campaigns have been as well. The fact that there was so much opposition arguably makes the communications failures on this all the worse.
It also highlights the biggest stumbling block of the Obama presidency — for a man who is incredibly articulate, he has real problems getting his message across. And that’s something that cannot be blamed on the opposition. Sure they have muddied the water — they always do. Its the job of the communications wing of an administration to combat that. And Obama’s team just has never been particularly effective at the countering.
Maybe I watched a different election. While the Republicans positioned the 2012 election as a referendum on Obama, it sure seemed like there wasn’t a particular “theme” to their attack. In fact, I think most would argue that they attempted to position the election primarily on Obama’s handling of the economy versus Obamacare.
But that could also have been a sign of how poorly they stayed on message.
There are a few rather large hurdles to overcome there.
1) There are somewhere between 25 and 40% that simply will not listen to a Democratic president or if they do will immediately assume whatever he says is a lie and take their news from their ideological bubble. (The inverse is also true.)
2) Soundbites sell better in today’s society than reasoned debate. (It is up for debate how much different that is from past eras.) It is much easier to spread a quick, easily repeatable lie, like Obamacare is paying to insure illegals while cutting your Medicare, than it is to spread a rational argument.
3) Demonizing legislation is more exciting and gets more coverage than playing up the benefits of legislation.
I’ll direct you here:
Is he not saying that the polls showing “intense” negativity make the Republicans strategy of calling for its repeal – based on theories that would make more impactful reforms impossible – is advisable? Doesn’t that ignore that the only way you can make the ‘intensely’ claim by including those who are repelled by the GOP’s proposals?
@C. Clavin: Yup. And it seems to me that many, many people are desperately waiting for Oct. 1st. As part of a coalition of nonprofit organizations, I helped staff a booth at our state fair last weekend. Although we represented a wide range of nonprofit services, almost everyone who stopped by our booth had the same question: could we help them find out how to sign up for the health care exchanges?
Again my memory, but early in the campaigns Mitt did seem convinced he could beat Obama on the need to repeal Obamacare.
He had a few problems with that.
The House Republican caucus appears to be suffering from a severe OCD condition compounded with a fear of losing the House in the 2014 midterm elections, an affliction known as Obamacarephobia.
I’m sure their health insurance plan will cover the cost of necessary medication.
IF all this isn’t all a show for campaign dough. They may have a majority of the majority that, knowing they can slap the 40-50 “true believers” down at any time, is playing along. A small government shutdown is excellent publicity.
However if this is about herding Boehner into a bust-the-Hastert Rule corner, it’s gotta be about replacing him, and a fine mess that would be.
Such a lot of arguing about the poll results for ‘ObamaCare’/PPACA! Who believes that the Republican caucus is simply following public preference? C’mon! Raise your hands!
After all, was the Republican caucus following public preferences in their opposition to background checks on firearms purchases? Did the public polling showing “intense” support for SNAP/food stamps govern Republican policy? Perhaps Our Gracious Host is of the opinion that Republicans would give up their campaign to REPEAL IT! should polls demonstrate significant public support for ObamaCare? Does he even care whether polls show support for the law? Since when did self-professed ‘libertarians’ think that polling and voting should determine one’s ‘rights’ (either the ‘right’ to health-care or the ‘right’ to not have a ‘mandate’?)
The only reason that the ACA has generated the amount of opposition that we’re seeing is because it is redistribution of health-care money from the relatively wealthy to the relatively poor.
All the inane blather about the polling data is misdirection. It should be ignored.
Actually, polls DO already show significant public support:
This recent poll from CNN shows topline #s of 57% oppose 38% favor.
Then in the very next question about why the respondents are oppposed, it turns out that 39% think it’s “too liberal”, while 38% approve, and 11% think it’s not liberal enough (13% of respondents were honest enough to state “no opinion”.
So the real number is 39% oppose “socialized Obamacare”, while 49% either favor the law, or would like see something that Conservatives would hate even more.
To his credit, John King actually showed this later breakdown on CNN earlier.
Thank you for the response. I can see how you could interpret that passage in that way.
Fair points. However, given how much credit the Obama campaign was given during the 2008, and to a lesser degree 2012, in using alternative media for organizing and rallying — something that was in part well deserved — I still think too many let them off the hook for mismanaging (if not out and out botching) communications about the ACA.
Honestly it’s a topic I’d love to hear Neil H write on as he’s got a more informed position on campaigning.