While many of us here in the Buckeye State were watching Ohio State hold on to a victory over Wisconsin on the college football field, the U.S. House was busy trying to keep the federal government from shutting down in the next couple days, while trying to minimize the devastating effects of President Obama’s disastrous healthcare law.
Originally, the House focused its efforts on “Defunding Obamacare,” which was an awful strategy right out of the gate. But after the U.S. Senate stripped out that language and sent it back to the House, the GOP looked to a more reasonable strategy:
House Republicans forced through a short-term government funding bill that delays Obamacare and permanently repeals a tax on medical devices, setting up their most dramatic face-off ever with President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats.
“The House has again passed a plan that reflects the American people’s desire to keep the government running and stop the president’s health care law,” Boehner said in a post-vote statement. Repealing the medical device tax will save jobs and delaying the president’s health care law for all Americans is only fair given the exemptions the White House has granted to big businesses and insurance companies.”
This strategy was a much better play from the beginning. In this debate, the House GOP certainly had a hand to play. But trying to somehow defund the President’s only major legislative accomplishment—no matter how much the general public and many others hate the law—meant that the GOP overplayed that hand.
A delay was a much more realistic strategy since, well, the President has already embraced the idea—if not constitutionally. The latest Continuing Resolution vote, with the Obamacare delay, gives the GOP much better talking points: “Why should big business get a pass on the President’s harmful healthcare law, while small business and middle-class individuals are left to deal with its devastating effects?”
It’s something the President, and Senate Democrats, cannot spin—Obama’s unilateral delay flies in the face of that “fairness” message he’s been pushing for years. The House’s vote last night forces Democrats to own their hypocrisy, one way or another. If they pass the CR, Democrats admit, at best, Obamacare is not ready, and at worst, its an unqualified disaster. If they refuse to pass the CR, Democrats would be forced to not only defend why Obamacare should be delayed for “rich businesses” and not ordinary Americans, but also would have to do so during a government shutdown that Democrats could have prevented if they truly believed in “fairness.”
This was always the better strategy: go for a smaller, more realistic victory that still keeps Obamacare’s effects from crippling American families. The only question at this point is, “was it too little, too late?”
With just a couple days until the federal government shutdown, much of the national discussion will be on “what happens if…” rather than the policy that’s on the table. Had the House gone this direction originally, they would have had plenty of time to frame the debate. The compressed timeframe makes that much more difficult now.
But, overall the delay vote is a much better strategy—even if it took the GOP a couple weeks to get it right.