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Continuing Irresolution

In the ongoing fight to protect the American people from Obamacare, the next opportunity to deal a significant blow will be the next Continuing Resolution. Establishment politicians of both parties will try to continue the warped practice of allowing the federal government to trundle on. Defenders of liberty and limited government activists should take this opportunity not just to stop Obamacare, but to begin slowing runaway government.

Senator Mike Lee has introduced what some are calling a line in the sand, circulating a letter whose signers declare not to fund Obamacare on any CR vote.  From the letter:

If the administration will not enforce the law as written, then the American people should not be forced to fund it.


For these reasons, we will not support any continuing resolution or appropriations legislation that funds further implementation or enforcement of Obamacare.

At Redstate, Illinois conservative Ulysses Arn provides a good rundown of the reaction, which included:

Opponents of that plan say that it cannot succeed, dismissing it as disastrous, the dumbest thing they've ever heard, and even dishonest. Karl Rove called it a "game of chicken," his ideas thoroughly debunked by FreedomWorks' Dean Clancy.

Opponents say that media and public reaction to the plan will be negative, causing it to fail as members abandon it. They go on to conclude that the failure will thus strengthen the hand of the President in his illegal, uneven enforcement of the law, and the overall debacle would further diminish opponents' electoral chances in 2014 and 2016.

But much of the opposition to the Lee letter is fear that if the strategy should fail -- for instance, if the same people now criticizing it grew weak -- it would fail hard.

Obamacare is a disaster being willfully forced on the American people, but so is much of the rest of the federal government.  Limited government advocates should be demanding, before a CR will go forward, some mixture of the following or similar demands:

  • A Balanced Budget Amendment sent to the state legislatures
  • Repeal of the 16th Amendment (income tax) sent to the states 
  • Repeal of the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators) sent to the states 
  • An amendment forcing term limits on all federal elected officials 
  • Shuttering and defunding the departments of Education, Energy, Transportation, and Labor
  • Full Repeal of Obamacare
  • Lee letter defunding
  • Get the IRS out of Obamacare
  • The administration accepting defeat in Halbig v Sebelius, acknowledging that tax subsidies and penalties only apply in states with state-created Exchanges
  • Resignation of Kathleen Sebelius

Forget whether you agree with all of those demands or not -- I'm not sure I do. The point is to change the terms and scale of the negotiations from just defunding Obamacare to a frontal attack on the entire leftist agenda. 

The Speaker would feel much more free to negotiate away items off  that list of demands, showing that he is not intransigent.  Among other demands, at least Obamacare defunding should not be considered negotiable. 

Before and during a shutdown, Republicans could even pass House bills funding various parts of the government, but including the specific language removing all funding from Obamacare.

As negotiations proceed, there will be ample opportunity for the president to accede to demands other than defunding.

The Democrat Media Complex would almost certainly win the short term public opinion battle.  Showing the fortitude to stick to principles in the face of challenge would do wonders for the Speaker's approval rating, and that of his party, in the long run.

President Obama would sign the Obamacare-free CR if he believed he could use it to advance a single-payer solution, or if he thought doing so would allow him to take the House and get to 60 votes in the Senate for his lame duck years. That would be dangling a carbon tax, single payer, an end to House investigations, and a Republicanless immigration law in front of his eyes. He could be the new FDR for generations.

Standing firm on a shutdown as outlined above would not hurt Republicans in 2014 or 2016. With the law defunded, but still on the books, the issue would still be alive, and yet Republicans would have shown themselves willing to do what they were elected to do.

Those on the right decrying a shutdown strategy altogether are signaling that Republicans are unserious about any demands they make. Since Obama is not afraid of Republicans, he can simply stick to his guns and get his way.

If Republicans are not willing to shut down the government, they cannot ask anything. Even losing a few House seats would be acceptable if Democrats could be made to believe the threat of a shutdown next time. As it is, the president knows he can just demand whatever he wants, and Republicans will back down. 

Go big. Demand more than your bottom line. Don't let your bargaining opponent know your bottom line. Don't be afraid to win.


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