Could a new GOP majority win a government shutdown battle over defunding the national health care law? From our July-August issue.
(Page 2 of 3)
“It’s possible to defund the whole thing,” Tiahrt said. “It’s possible to defund sections of it. It would be more likely that some of those things that were done as special provisions to capture one or two votes are more vulnerable than others.”
For instance, he noted the “Louisiana Purchase” of $300 million in Medicaid money, inserted as Democrats were courting Sen. Mary Landrieu to vote for the Senate bill. Another example is the increased funding for Internal Revenue Service agents to audit businesses and individuals to enforce mandates.
Yet Tiahrt admitted that “there are some things in the health care law I approve of,” and cited funding for community health centers as an example. “The whole idea here is we need to find sections that are not effective, or are in the wrong direction for the recovery of our economy and our nation, and put those to the test through the amendment process,” he said.
If the Republicans control both chambers of Congress and choose to defund the administration’s chief legislative achievement, it would trigger a showdown with President Obama. If they control just one body of Congress, the conflict would still occur, but it would be between the two chambers.
“Regardless of if Republicans control one body or both bodies, there could be a standoff,” Tiahrt said. “And the standoff means no funding. So for those whose objective is to reform, repeal, and replace the health care system, that’s a good opportunity.”
Tiahrt said that ultimately, it was a matter of having the will.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to have strong leadership in the House and Senate,” he said. “There are tools available. We can talk about different strategies, but unless you have strong leadership and people who are willing to withstand criticism from the administration, and probably from the national media, it would be difficult to get it done. So we can’t send representatives and senators to Washington who cower in the face of conflict. We have to have courageous members.”
HOW REPUBLICANS CHOOSE to proceed should they win a majority in at least one chamber largely depends on how they view the legacy of the 1995 government shutdown. Gingrich himself emphatically rejects the conventional wisdom that the event was a huge defeat for the GOP, allowing President Clinton to reclaim the center by portraying Republicans as extremists.
“Everybody in Washington thinks that was a big mistake,”
Gingrich said. “They’re exactly wrong. There had been no reelected
Republican majority since 1928. Part of the reason we got
reelected, and we were reelected, remember, with [Bob] Dole losing
the presidency…is our base thought we were serious. And they
thought we were serious because when it came to a show-down, we
He also said the shutdown helped lead to practical accomplishments, such as a balanced budget and welfare reform.
In today’s climate, Gingrich said, Republicans could win the battle with Obama. “A Republican Congress could calmly and forcefully say, ‘We are not going to fund bigger government, more debt, and socialized medicine,’” he said.
But Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute health policy analyst and fierce critic of ObamaCare, disagrees.
“I don’t think that anyone but Newt Gingrich believes that that was a success,” Cannon said of the government shutdown. The reason why congressional Republicans were reelected in 1996, he argued, was simply that in most years, the public tends to reelect incumbents. “If he thinks that’s evidence of success of his government shutdown, then I think he must be smoking something.”
Instead of helping the cause of limited government, the government shutdown created an opening for Democrats to associate lower taxes with being uncompassionate, Cannon said. To avoid the same mistake this time, he suggested that if Republicans take back the majority, they should force the administration to defend the aspects of the law that generate the most public opposition.
“If you want to be successful, you have to make sure you’re doing it in a way that is going to make the law unpopular and not make you unpopular,” he said. “And to do that, you can’t defund the whole thing. You have to pick something that is crucial, that will cause major problems for proponents of it.”
One of the most effective tactics Republicans could use, he said, would be to pass an appropriations bill that includes the more restrictive language on abortion championed by Rep. Bart Stupak, who ultimately caved and supported a bill that did allow for public funding (though he vehemently denies it). Such a move would provoke a fight in which pro-choice Democrats would once again have to choose between ObamaCare and limits on private abortion coverage. (Given that the health care law has government subsidizing private policies, a broad number of private policies would be subject to such restrictions for the first time.) On top of that, public funding for abortion is something that Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?