Republicans Hold Their Breath, and the Country, Until Obamacare is Stopped

While the possibility of American intervention in Syria has been at the forefront of the national consciousness, another serious issue looms just around the corner. With less than three weeks (and only six working days) left to avert a government shutdown, and an October fight looming on the debt ceiling, House Republicans are finding it nearly impossible to craft a stopgap budget that can both pass muster with Tea Party loyalists and pass the House and Senate.

The hangup is, as it has so often been, Obamacare. Conservative Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have demanded that Republicans make eliminating funding for the Affordable Care Act a non-negotiable part of budget negotiations. As there is no hope that Senate Democrats or President Barack Obama would agree to this demand, such a strategy essentially ensures a shutdown of all but basic government services. That could in turn jeopardize the fragile economic recovery and send the United States back into recession — not to mention a whole host of negative repercussions from stopping all but essential services.

The politics of this are bad to terrible for Republicans, who’ve tried to repeal Obamacare more than 40 times. Polling indicates that Americans would overwhelmingly blame Republicans for a shutdown, and that they do not support shutting down government to repeal the ACA. What’s more, even if Democrats were to agree to repeal funding, it would not stop the ACA from going into effect – most funding is guaranteed from year to year.

Since House Republican leaders recognize that shutting down the government in yet another futile attempt to stop Obamacare from happening is a terrible idea, they have pitched an alternative, which would fund the government, but force the Senate to vote on whether to keep or repeal the ACA. The Senate, which has a Democratic majority, almost certainly would. It is unclear what exactly this would accomplish, other than allowing leaders cover. Unsurprisingly, conservatives have categorically rejected the idea, calling it “hocus pocus.”

Republican firebrands have called the shutdown “a risk you have to take.” In an interview with USA Today, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said: “Any path forward, there’s a political downside to it. We didn’t come here to get re-elected and have safe political careers. We came here to get things done.”

As always, this leaves House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a terrible spot. There are growing signs that Boehner can’t get a majority of his caucus to support continued funding for the government unless it includes some mechanism to block the Affordable Care Act. This leaves Boehner stuck between taking a reckless, terrible stand based on what his caucus wants, or violating the “Hastert Rule,” an unwritten House Republican principle that Speakers won’t entertain legislation which lacks majority support among their caucus.

Boehner has violated the Hastert Rule before, most recently during the fiscal cliff negotiations. However, there was speculation that, in that circumstance, his caucus gave him a dispensation to do so.

Whether they would do so now, with the chance of sticking it to Obama on the table, is anyone’s guess. However, with conservative groups outright demanding that Republicans make their stand here, it is hard to imagine that Boehner could violate the Hastert Rule and get away with it. After all, a failed negotiation on the fiscal cliff would have ended with more tax increases than ultimately passed; Republicans could rationalize that defeat. This, however, is Obamacare, and shutting down the government isn’t that bad of an outcome if, like many on the far right, you don’t believe in government at all.

This leaves the clock ticking toward more self-inflicted pain for Americans. House Republicans may yet blink — politically, it’s the only reasonable thing to do — but if they don’t, we could be looking at the first government shutdown in 18 years, something which no reasonable person, left or right, should want. Alas, the number of reasonable Republicans seems a bit smaller every day.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 months ago

thanks for the article.

Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman3 years ago

My apologies if what is below is redundant.

Melissa wrote, "...other healthcare proposals that would fiscally deal with affordable healthcare for all should be discussed."

I agree! And, while we're at it, let's discuss the issues raised by the union leaders. And, discuss repealing the exemptions that the conservatives in this thread claim that are in the ACA. I'm waiting for the Republican House to start the discussion...

Read more:

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

BTW, a survey on MSN showed Canada as one of the top ten happiest countries in the world at # 6. The US was NOT in the top ten in spite of David's insistence. It could be again if the good citizens would toss their useless politicians to the curb.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

True Pamela and Suba. DAVID is a coward as are all bullies. When he can't win he runs away and denies he has lost the fight. All that is needed to defeat bullies is for good people to confront them. That includes both of you, Mary and Kevin and all others here with an OPEN mind who are willing to try proven methods and ignore propaganda and old superstitions. If left to those like him, we would still be living in caves.

Pamela W.
Pamela W.3 years ago

Well you've done your best Suba, Linda, Mary and Kevin but you know what they say (as regards those who won't listen) ....... there is NO cure for stupid !!!

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

Well, I've let it go a few hours and see DAVID still has not responded to my comparative costs for health care in the US vs the rest of the world. He has failed to do so on every health care discussion and I'll bet he will continue to avoid the facts in the future as well. This would be because, no doubt, he cannot justify it. The costs are strictly due to the profits made by insurance companies. Profits come before health and human dignity in the good old US of A don't they David? People are commodities. That is not freedom. Hence the US is certainly NOT the land of the free. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness my butt. Nobody can be happy if they are not free from the burden of illness nor do they have liberty if they lose their home to pay for health care bills. Shake your head David and think about how free some Americans are by this definition. The Statue of Liberty must be cringing in disgust at how her land has been manipulated by greed.

Mary B.
Mary B.3 years ago

Kevin..... your analogy of the criminal with the gun is so right on.....I remember all the discussion on this topic........

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Is anyone else hearing Patsy Cline singing "Crazy" during each of Melissa's posts?

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Wow, that is some amazing mental gymnastics there Melissa.

So the Republicans are like a criminal who puts a gun to your head and says "do as I say or I will blow your brains out."

But in your mind it is the hostage who is killing themself if they don't obey the criminal's demands?

Okay, thanks for the update from the wacky world of the right wing fantasy bubble.

Melissa Larson
M Larson3 years ago


To be clear: ALL of the Republicans in the House do not want the ACA to harm this country, but of course, our president has given thousands of waivers
out of the ACA mandate, which is UNFAIR!

THEREFORE: IF the CR extension to fund the govt, but not any funding for the ACA, does NOT get onto the floor of the Senate for DEBATE it will be the FAULT of Sen. Harry Reid (D). He can keep this up until the deadline and the govt. shuts down: the Democrats!
Or, let's say a senate bill including the defunding of the ACA passes the senate and gets to the desk of the president for signing, and HE VETOES = the govt shuts down. Obama shuts down the govt!

When are you people going to stop passing this buck?! It's the DEMOCRATS who WANT TO SHUT THE GOVT DOWN because they know the media and mindless minions are already programmed to say that it's the Republicans!

These are the facts AND the reasons for all of them! To borrow an oft used quote from one of you, "Deal with it!"