Some conservatives are tired of pretending there's much of a chance to defund Obamacare this fall. A Tuesday editorial from The Wall Street Journal argues that defunding attempts — whether through threatening to shutdown the government or not raise the debt ceiling — are futile, and Republicans who support it are kamikazes. In Republican Study Committee staff meeting on Monday, an aide to Texas Rep. John Colberson told an aide to Sen. Ted Cruz that he was "not dealing in reality" in suggesting defunding Obamacare would be "easy." Many people applauded. The problem is, as The National Review's Robert Costa reports, a lot of people are making good money saying otherwise.
The Journal argues, "The evidence going back to the Newt Gingrich Congress is that no party can govern from the House, and the Republican Party can't abide the outcry when flights are delayed, national parks close and direct deposits for military spouses stop. Sooner or later the GOP breaks." House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor seem to agree on this point. They've tried to convince conservatives that it will be easier to defund Obamacare by threatening to not raise the debt limit. But Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador points out there's a small problem with that. "The problem is that John Boehner has already said that he will not go past the deadline of the debt ceiling, and when you do that, you’re kind of undermining your negotiation," Labrador tells The Hill. Labrador would prefer to have the Obamacare fight over government funding, which runs out in two weeks.
The Journal thinks the debt limit tactic is futile too. The editors support Republicans trying to move legislation in a more conservative direction — they want Republicans to try to preserve the sequester's budget cuts. "But," the Journal says, "it's something else entirely to sabotage any plan with a chance of succeeding and pretend to have 'leverage' that exists only in the world of townhall applause lines and fundraising letters."
Those fundraising letters are bringing in tons of cash for the people who send them, The National Review reports. For conservative groups like Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, "Business has boomed since the push to defund Obamacare caught on. Conservative activists are lighting up social media, donations are pouring in, and e-mail lists are growing." The Senate Conservatives Fund collected more than 1.3 million signatures for its defund petition. Brent Bozell's ForAmerica has made more than 50,000 calls to congressional offices. "Activists are engaged, small-dollar donors are giving cash, and the leadership is nervous," the National Review says. "Regardless of how the rest unfolds, they’ve already won."
If Republicans pursue defunding Obamacare during the fiscal negotiations, the Journal warns they risk a chain reaction that would ultimately lead to disaster for them: "Mr. Obama could spend his final two years going out in a blaze of liberal glory." On Tuesday, Politico's Ginger Gibson writes that House Republicans' failure to agree on a government funding bill last week "raises the possibility" Boehner will need Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. But that would come with a price: not only would Democrats oppose an Obamacare defunding measure, some would want to attach immigration reform, too.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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