Right now, if you listen to most outlets, House Republicans are itching for a fight with President Obama in which they are prepared to threaten a government shutdown and a US default if their radical fringe does not get its demand of defunding Obamacare. And they very well might be. The media chatter also seems to indicate, however, that their leadership is being dragged along with the crazies, albeit kicking and screaming. This is where I part ways with the so-called analysts. I see things in a different light. I see John Boehner beginning the process, once again, to painstakingly cave to President Obama in the government funding and debt ceiling fights.
The headline reports have been that Boehner is relenting to the pressure created by right wing groups and ... well, okay, just right wing groups... to tie defunding of the Affordable Care Act with the must-pass Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded past the end of this month. He even scheduled a vote tomorrow to do just that. But the devil, as always, is in the details. As the process is detailed, this is nothing more than another meaningless vote, and the GOP leadership is prepared to fold in the end.
The first attempt comes Friday, when the House is scheduled to vote on a plan to fund government operations past Sept. 30 that would also eliminate money for the Affordable Care Act.[...]Well, duh. Boehner is going to give the Teabaggers a vote to tie Obamacare to the government funding bill, making their idiotic brains think that they are being given a chance to shut down the government, and then when the bill gets back from the Senate without the provision, he is going to say 'look, we tried,' and surrender quietly. The exact same thing is likely to happen with the debt ceiling, in less than a month.
Senate Democrats have pledged to reject any effort to disable the health care law. They are likely to strip away the health care provision from the House bill and send the measure back to the lower chamber. Once that happens, GOP leaders would be faced with the choice of risking a government shutdown, or passing a temporary spending plan with the help of House Democrats.
How do I know that Boehner is preparing to fold? Well, for one thing, Boehner has himself refused to say that the Obamacare defunding provision is a must have attachment to the CR (or to the debt limit). Second, the latest spur between Ted Cruz and House Republicans about who has to hold the line on their perverse attempt to deny health care to 30 million people has proven that neither chamber's Republican caucus has the intestinal fortitude to take the repercussions of shutting down the government or worse, defaulting the government. Ted Cruz knows full well that he doesn't have enough votes in the Senate within the Republican caucus to filibuster Harry Reid on stripping out the Obamacare funding provision. And House Republicans know they have no chance if the Senate Republicans won't lend them a helping hand.
Hence begins the song and dance and the pretzel moves for John Boehner's next surrender to Barack Obama. The president is not budging an inch from his position that he will not give into the Tea Party's extortion attempts. He has made it abundantly clear that it is dangerous to allow economic terrorists within the Republican Party to hold hostage the normal operations of the government or our ability to pay the bills on the money Congress has already spent.
The Republican establishment, truth be told, has no appetite for this fight either. They know it is a sure loss for them, as they have neither the leverage nor the guts to shut down the government - not because they care about the country but because being the political animals they are, they know it would only hurt the GOP. Their leadership - especially Speaker Boehner - knows that would be a suicide move for the GOP. The public already hates Congress, and such a move would intensify that disdain, concentrate blame on his party, and consolidate support behind the president.
Even more significantly, they know that their own benefactors - the banking and business lobbies - will skin them alive if they so much as thought about screwing with the debt limit.
The thing here is that regardless of all the pontificating from the chattering classes, John Boehner has known for a while now that there is no way the president will play ball with the Teabagger demand to defund Obamacare to keep the government open or to pay our bills. He has known for a while that he has no leverage, and he has no choice but to do these things in a clean fashion. That's why not only did he surrender once before, but spent the entire summer trying to avoid coupling government funding to Obamacare defunding.
The only thing that has changed is that Boehner, having lost control of his caucus, gave into their their theatrics and scheduled a meaningless vote that he knows will never become law (like, you know, all the other 41 attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act). The only thing that has changed is that when the full cave happens, it will be more obvious. But in terms of the actual leverage and policy, nothing's changed. Barring total chaos in the GOP in which Boehner is essentially deposed as Speaker (which I guess we can't rule out), there never was going to be a serious threat to Obamacare in the government funding fights, and there isn't one now.