Topics: Obamacare

The Republican establishment’s incoherence on government shutdowns, Obamacare, and the debt limit

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Beltway Confidential,Congress,Conn Carroll,Obamacare,Republican Party,Debt Ceiling,Analysis,Budgets and Deficits,Government Shutdown

According to establishment Republicans like Karl Rove, it would be absolute armageddon for the GOP if conservatives pursued delays/cuts to Obamacare through the continuing resolution process. “Remember, when Republicans shut down the government in 1995,” Rove wrote at Fox News, “they had funded half the fiscal year’s budget including all of defense and still the GOP lost badly in the court of public opinion.”

FreedomWorks’ Dean Clancy has already addressed some of the factual errors in Rove’s post here, unfortunately many in the House Republican Leadership seem to have bought into Rove’s analysis.

For example, House Majority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., told National Review August 9, “No one is advocating a government shutdown… In order to avoid a government shutdown, we need 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House to pass a continuing resolution,” he explained. “To get 60 votes in the Senate, you need at least 14 Democrats to join Republicans and pass a CR that defunds Obamacare. Right now, I am not aware of a single Democrat in the Senate who would join us. If and when defunding has 60 votes in the Senate, we will absolutely deliver more than 218 votes in the House.”

Which is a fine argument. Except for the fact that Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is also on record threatening not to raise the debt limit unless Obama agrees to dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. On July 24, Boehner said, “We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling without real cuts in spending. It’s as simple as that.” “I believe the so-called Boehner Rule is the right formula for getting that done,” he added, referring to his rule matching new debt authority with spending cuts.

House Republicans can’t announce they are willing to surrender on Obamacare funding in the CR because they are afraid they will be blamed for a government shutdown, and then turn right around and threaten not to raise the debt limit unless Obama agrees to more spending cuts. There is no reason anyone should take them seriously.

If anything, a government shutdown is much safer ground to fight on. Hitting the debt limit would trigger far harsher consequences than a government shutdown.

If Republicans in Washington don’t want to fight Obamacare through the CR, that’s fine. But they shouldn’t then pretend that Obama and the Democrats should take their debt limit threats seriously at all.

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