President Barack Obama has made clear last week what he thinks of the attempts to dismantle his signature domestic achievement.
“The idea that you would shut down the government unless you prevent 30 million people from getting healthcare is a bad idea,” he said at a White House press conference last Friday.
The president recently announced the one year delay of the provision of the law that requires businesses with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance.
Republicans in Congress sensed an opportunity and pounced.
“He won’t be implementing; he won’t be enforcing the employer mandate. So hardworking Americans have to comply, big business doesn’t,” complained Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee.
Lee joined Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz in an orchestrated colloquy on the Senate floor.
“These laws are being cancelled on a whim. The president is deciding we’re going to enforce this part of it, but not that part of it,” Rubio declared.
And Senator Cruz wondered “Why is President Obama willing to grant a waiver for giant corporations but not for hardworking families?”
All three of those Republicans are freshmen, and both Cruz and Rubio don’t hide their White House ambitions.
When Congress returns from its five week break September 9th, it will debate a continuing resolution. That’s the bill that keeps the government paid for and open. It’s necessary because Congress will once again fail to agree to appropriations bills.
Cruz said the continuing resolution is the most plausible way to strangle the Affordable Care Act. He recognized that every attempt thus far has been pure politics.
“The past couple of years we’ve seen 39, 40, 41 votes to repeal Obamacare, all of which has been effectively symbolic because none had a real chance of passage,” he said on the Senate floor. “Mr. President, with a continuing resolution, we have a real chance of successfully defunding Obamacare.”
Without a CR the government would shutdown: The Pentagon, Social Security Administration, Homeland Security, Commerce.
“I’m praying that people will understand the damage it’ll do not only to the Republican Party but also this country,” Representative Don Young said.
Young, who called the shutdown disastrous, lived through the last of them. Republicans in the House shut down the government in 1995 and 1996. They led to Democratic gains in Washington, and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich lost his gavel.
“We went through this, and it’s not a pretty sight, especially when people don’t get their Social Security checks, Medicare and Medicaid don’t work, VA hospitals are shut down,” he said in his Washington office.
He conceded the shutdown is not an empty threat, but he predicted the junior members may be whipped into shape by voters.
“You watch those unruly members we have, they’ll come crying back here real quick when they go back to their districts,” he said with a laugh.
A whole of host of veterans in Washington are warning of major blow black. Senator Richard Burr, a close friend of Speaker John Boehner, said closing the government over a bill that will remain law as long as Obama is president is the “dumbest idea he’s ever heard.” The president would veto a CR that cuts his bill.
Senator Lisa Murkowski said members of her party can disagree on the health care bill, but there is no reason to threaten to hold the government hostage over it.
“When you’re talking about a threat to shut down the government, them’s fighting words,” she said. “It has real life impact on everyone in this country.”
It’s a fight some are willing to pick. And if they don’t win, it still gets their name in the paper.