John Boehner's Absurd Plan to Use the Debt Ceiling to Delay Obamacare (and why it won't work)

Facing a humiliating defeat in their last-ditch attempt to defund the Affordable Care by threatening a government shutdown, House Republicans have hatched yet another plan to screw with it. This time, they are threatening to default the United States on its debt obligations. What are their demands to release this hostage? Basically, that the president re-elected in a landslide must stop governing according to his mandate, sign up for the drill-baby-drill crowd, and agree to let coal plants pollute more. Oh, and delay the Affordable Care Act for a year. Exactly none of which has anything to do with the deficit, except the fact that delaying the ACA increases the debt.

The problem with the delaying Obamacare with any future legislation is that Speaker is going to need a time machine to do so. The debt ceiling doesn't come crashing down until October 17, and people will begin signing up for health insurance on the health insurance marketplaces under Obamacare on... October 1. To delay the entire implementation of the law by a year, Congress would have to vote to shut down exchanges already open and signing up Americans and small business for health insurance. They would have to vote to directly take away plans many people already will have signed up for.

Congress isn't going to do that. John Boehner knows that as well as anyone. There is no way to stop the Obamacare train once the exchanges go live. And this whole one-year delay thing; this wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that you can't have Americans find out that Obamacare is good for them and the Republicans want to rip it away in an election year, would it, Mr. Speaker?

I mean, yeah, okay, John Boehner is putting up a brave front now, just like he does every time before caving to the president.
“The president says ‘I’m not going to negotiate,' ” Mr. Boehner said. “Well, I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”
Except that is exactly how it's going to work, and John Boehner knows it. This will be the same kabuki theater: the House will pass Boehner's idiotic plan, the Senate Democrats will strip out provisions unrelated to the debt ceiling and send it back to the House, at which point Boehner will have to break the Hastert Rule and pass it with largely Democratic and a few Republican votes.

Republicans have absolutely zero leverage on the debt limit. They can babble all they want about how the American people want spending cuts with the debt ceiling increase, but for every one of those polls, there are two showing that the American people, despite our zeal for cutting spending in the abstract, have no appetite for specific spending cuts, no matter what the specifics are. Plus, at the end of the day, Americans are not going to stand for stopping social security checks and military personnel payments and Medicare reimbursements and small business loans or bond payments just so Republicans can "stick it" to Obama.

But the public's irreconcilable positions on spending cuts are hardly the toughest factor facing Republicans on the debt ceiling. President Obama isn't the only one worried about setting a precedent of letting wingbats hold hostage the nation's ability to pay the bills on the money Congress has already spent. The global financial industry and the business lobby - which bankroll the Republicans in Washington - have absolutely zero tolerance for crashing the debt limit, which will unleash chaos and catastrophy in the global financial markets and create havoc for big business which rely on financing being available.

Crashing the global financial system, which failure to raise the debt ceiling will certainly cause, is not acceptable to anyone except the crazy Tea Party lobby. So Boehner and DC Republicans will posture, and pontificate, and speechify, and threaten, and pay lip service, but the end of the day, will have bupkis to show their frantic base. Boehner cannot delay Obamacare or roll back other actions of the president's by using the debt ceiling as a hostage, because he has neither the ability nor the willingness to shoot that hostage.


Providing positive proof that you can never be crazy enough for the Tea Party, this proposal is already falling apart. The House GOP can't find the votes within its own caucus to pass this, The Hill reported just 28 minutes from the publication of the above piece. The Teabaggers in the House are complaining it doesn't have any specific spending cuts, which, ironically, is true.

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