This is a fascinating post, written by the guy who was the first speaker at the first-ever meeting of the Tea Party Caucus of the Republican House. It provides insight into why the fringes of what calls itself the conservative movement is suddenly frothing at the proverbial mouth to hold the federal budget hostage to a silly demand to “defund ObamaCare.”
I was invited by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) to speak about the coming debt ceiling fight because of a column I had written (and she misread) for Roll Call. I spoke first but was asked to stay for the rest of the meeting when the tea party chairs from Pennsylvania, Florida and Virginia told (actually…screamed at would be a better description) the 20 or so representatives who were there what they wanted from them in that session of Congress.
Number one on their wish list was — and this is an exact quote — “defund Obamacare.”
This was an exact prequel to what’s happening now.
The House was scheduled to vote the next day on a continuing resolution that, if it wasn’t enacted, would result in a federal government shutdown. The tea party state chairs were adamant that the members of Congress — all of which were self-professed tea party supporters — not vote for the CR if it included any funding for Obamacare.
The Tea Party demand to hold the government hostage on this issue is nothing new. So why oh why is it coming up again? Collender points to shifting dynamics in the internal politics of the House, but neglects to mention that the Tea Party is simply out of time. You see, Mister Anderson, the upcoming continuing resolution is the last one before the federal and state exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act actually come online in October. If they do not succeed now, any future attempts to “defund ObamaCare” will actually require the defunding of subsidies that will be paying a large portion of what is estimated to be hundreds of thousands of insurance plans across the nation. Combine that with the general unpopularity of threatening to shut down the federal government in an election year, and it’s easy to see why the Tea Party will put every single rotten egg it has into the basket of whoever seems most committed to this idea.
Needless to say, it is possible, if not probable, that the Republicans will take back the Senate in 2014 and hold anything and everything hostage to defunding the Affordable Care Act. But by the time the 114th Congress is seated and has a change to work through bills at the beginning of 2015, there will have been two open enrollments for the exchanges, by which time the public will have realized that the law is in fact not ruining America, and is in fact helping people get coverage who were simply unable to do it before.
It’s either now or never–unless, of course, the Kochs succeed in convincing people not to do what’s actually best for them. I would not be surprised if they do; I have, of course, made my feelings about humans perfectly clear.
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