Congress is back—and the House has an ambitious plan for the year ahead. OK, an ambitious plan to cement its place in history as the Do-Nothingest Congress of all time.
The House has scheduled all of 97 days in session before the November elections, with many of them being half days or pro forma ones. And Majority Leader Eric Cantor's memo to his troops outlining the plan for the year ahead made it clear that there is at most a bare-bones agenda, focused like a laser, yet again, on repealing or further sullying and delegitimizing Obamacare. The only possible good news coming out of that is that the obsessive focus on killing Obamacare may provide the excuse for House leaders to extend the debt ceiling without blackmail this time, by convincing their rank and file that it is the best way to avoid distractions and keep the focus on the health-insurance law.
The obsession with Obamacare, and the near-universal belief among Republican lawmakers and conservative spinmeisters that the law will collapse spectacularly of its own weight, is fascinating.
Remember that when Senator Ted Cruz incited the shutdown last year over the demand to defund Obamacare, his argument was that this was the last chance before the law was implemented in January—after which it would be impossible to stop it, because so many Americans would be delighted with its benefits. Cruz told Sean Hannity last July, "If we don't do it [defund Obamacare] now, in all likelihood, Obamacare will never, ever be repealed. Why is that? Because on January 1, the exchanges kick in, the subsidies kick in; ... their plan is to get the American people addicted to the sugar, addicted to the subsidies, and once that happens, in all likelihood, it never gets …"