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No Deal: Details of the McConnell and Boehner Capitulation Plans

[POSTED: 10/15, 11:45 AM]

[UPDATE: 10/15, 4:00 PM -- News reports suggest House Republican leaders are taking the "deal" to the House floor for a vote this evening, but are changing some of the details. Specifically, the leaders have decided to reopen the government until December 15th instead of January 15th; drop the medical device tax delay; drop the income verification provision; and apply ObamaCare to congressional staff. It's unclear at presstime whether the bill has sufficient support to pass.] 

[UPDATE: 10/15, 7:45 PM -- House Speaker Boehner pulled the bill from consideration this afternoon, after House conservatives rebelled against it. FreedomWorks had issued a Key Vote NO letter on the plan, as had other groups. President Obama and Senate Harry Reid also signalled opposition, driving House Democrats away and proving once again that the hard Left likes to bargain hard, even on the brink of alleged "default."]

[UPDATE: 10/16, 12:00 PM -- Reports this morning say Speaker Boehner will call a vote today on a legislative package negotiated overnight by Senators Reid and McConnell. The new package is stripped down to almost nothing. It will reopen the government until mid-January; extend the debt limit till early February; and symbolically tighten income fraud verification in the exchanges. Plus, the separate budget conference committee would have to report a budget plan by December 13th -- a plan very likely to bust the sequester spending caps and increase the size of government. That's it. Like yesterday's failed version, the bill would do nothing to give the American people relief from ObamaCare. Presumably the bill will pass with most Democrats voting in favor, which would enable most Republicans to vote against. We have not yet seen legislative text, but based on the reports FreedomWorks would key-vote "NO."]

Bipartisan congressional leaders are conspiring once again to stiff-arm the American people and preserve ObamaCare, even as that monstrously unfair, unaffordable, and unnecessary scheme shows signs of complete unworkability.

Late yesterday, Senators Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) reportedly struck a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt limit and reopen the government, without any conditions and without relieving the American people from ObamaCare.

This morning, House leaders came out with a slightly different version of the same "deal."

In this post, I will try to summarize and critique each of the various elements in play.

The short version: It's a non-starter for grassroots America.

NOTE: The details below describe proposals by the two chambers' respective leaders. They do not necessarily reflect the views of individual members of either chamber. Also, some details are unclear at presstime and are subject to revision as new information comes out.

Continuing Resolution

Senate: Immediately reopen the government and fund it at fiscal year 2013 levels until January 15, 2014.

House: Same.

FreedomWorks: There is no need to reopen the government all at once. Instead, the House should continue to hold out for a halt to ObamaCare. To reduce the political pressure on itself, the House can continue its smart policy of passing targeted "mini-CRs" for specific, high-profile agencies or programs (such as NIH cancer clinical trials).

Debt Ceiling

Senate: Extend the debt limit until February 7.

House: Same. But also: Remove the President's flexibility to evade the debt limit through so-called "extraordinary measures" (e.g., borrowing temporarily from certain federal trust funds). 

FreedomWorks: As for raising the debt limit, ordinarily, we'd say don't do it at all, or least not without significant offsetting spending cuts. But the current government shutdown is admittedly not an ordinary situation. The standoff began with a grassroots effort to halt ObamaCare, and that fight should remain front and center. Therefore, while parts of the government remain shuttered, the debt limit should be lifted temporarily, without strings or conditions, in order to take the "default" canard off the table and restore the House's leverage over spending and ObamaCare. P.S. Eliminating "extraordinary measures" is a good idea on its own merits, because it gives Congress greater power over borrowing, as the Founders intended; but the reform is not urgently needed in the current situation. 

Health Insurer Reinsurance Fee

Senate: Eliminate the health insurer reinsurance fee. 

House: No provision.

FreedomWorks: A sop to the labor unions. Abolishing this tax-like fee is fine, but only if we also abolish the $10 billion subsidy to the health insurance industry that it funds. 

Income Fraud Prevention for Exchange Subsidies

Senate: No provision.

House: Require that the HHS Secretary certify that the health care exchanges are secure from income fraud.

FreedomWorks: Fig leaf. Merely restates current law. HHS can't even manage to process our passwords; how are we supposed to trust them to prevent people from lying about their income to qualify for taxpayer subsidies -- especially after President Obama publicly announced that he would not bother to verify applicants' income claims? 

Medical Device Tax

Senate: No provision. (Democrats, who control the Senate, are said to strongly oppose repeal or delay of this 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices.)

House: Two-year delay of the medical device tax.

FreedomWorks: The House provision is a sop to the medical device industry, which notably employs a former senior advisor to Speaker Boehner. We say: Not just no, but hell no! No more relief for corporations or unions until the American people get relief from this terrible law! Every corporate interest and powerful labor union in America has managed to finagle an exemption from ObamaCare -- even Congress! Where's our exemption?

Apply ObamaCare to Political Leaders

Senate: No provision.

House: Apply ObamaCare to Members of Congress,  the President, the Vice President, and members of the President’s Cabinet (but note: not to their staffs). 

FreedomWorks: This provision, while fully justified (and we would also apply it to congressional staff), is no substitute for relieving the American people from ObamaCare

Bicameral Budget Committee


Senate: Agree to negotiate with the other chamber on possible future spending and tax increases in the context of a House-Senate budget conference committee, which has been stalled since May. Also discuss cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

House: Same.

FreedomWorks: Negotiating a budget is a good thing. But increasing spending and taxes is not. Additionally, linking budget talks to the CR/ObamaCare fight is a strategic mistake. (Sadly, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), who claims to be an opponent of ObamaCare, was the leading force behind forging this misguided linkage, which undermines the efforts of grassroots America to halt the government takeover of their health care.) 


Senate: Fully fund ObamaCare. Don't delay any part of ObamaCare. Provide no relief to the American people from ObamaCare.

House: Same.

FreedomWorks: Has the disconnect between America and Washington ever been wider? 

What Next?

The ball is in the House's court. Here's what it should do:

  1. Reject the Senate and House leaders' "deals."
  2. Recover its leverage over spending and debt by: (a) quickly passing a short-term, string-free debt limit extension and (b) slowly reopening the government, via mini-CRs.
  3. Wait. Hold out for a halt to ObamaCare. 

Conclusion: At Least Delay the Mandate

At a minimum, the House should hold out for a delay of the unfair and deeply unpopular individual mandate. This mandate, effectively a punitive tax on the poor, represents one of of the most massive giveaways to corporate America in U.S. history, forcibly creating a gigantic captive market for the health insurance industry. It is also the law's linchpin.

Postponing it for a year would put a question mark over the entire scheme's future and effectively make ObamaCare the focus of the 2014 elections.

By the way, why do we even need a mandate? If ObamaCare is so wonderful, why can't it be voluntary? What's wrong with letting people opt out? 

John Thomas

Mom and Dad. Shame on me. I apologize.

I know for sure how my parents and grandparents would react to this government mess if they were still with us. I would be ashamed to admit to them that our cultural sewer and government mess has happen during my time as an adult American.

I found an email in my spam file from my Congressman. I rarely read his trash but made an exception this time. He is a typical Republican coward and the perfect example of a RINO with that “French Republican” attitude (retreat, retreat, surrender, capitulate). He dodged the issues and instead bragged about how important he is as “Chairman” of some sub-sub-subcommittee on whatever and another sub-sub-subcommittee on something else. He is soooo back bencher that I bet the bench he can sleep on probably is in the congressional parking lot. He has been in congress over twenty years and sometimes runs against someone unknown to anyone on the planet. Dumb me voted for him. No more.

David Stockman an OMB director under Reagan (remember Reagan taking him to the “woodshed”?) was on Fox News the other day and said that Presidents do not need an increase in the debt ceiling to pay debt. He says Presidents have the option of simply prioritizing spending and that there is plenty of money coming in to Treasury for the debt payments coming due. Obama always the liar says that raising the so-called debt ceiling is a must to pay the debt. Even Wall Street bankers believe his nonsense. That must make ya feel good. Almost makes you want to start throwing bombs at a whole bunch of people doesn't it.

The partial shutdown reveals an excellent cost reduction opportunity … 900,000 “non essential government employees” were laid off. They admit it! What a great start! Making their layoffs permanent obviously is much easier than we thought. They did it overnight! Do you think all us stupid Americans have figured this one out? NAW … that’s too complex for us besides most of us can't read thanks to our start dumb graduate dumber school system. By the way, almost 2 million employees are still on the payroll and 83 percent of the federal government is still busy disfunctioning.

John Daylily

Mark Patterson

Fact premiums doubled, deductibles tripled, and out of pocket caps went through the freaking roof. If you had a good plan, well it got canceled through ObamaCare mandates. The Affordable Care Act was NEVER supposed to make healthcare insurance more affordable or accessible, it was supposed to wreak chaos on the system so the system can be replaced by Single Payer. It's a hostile takeover of the nation's economy by assholes that lack a single clue how things really work.

Ratix's picture
Charles Atkinson

Greg, If you all these as scenarios you are mentioning are based on your own life, then you should probably know by now that any new taxes, I.E. individual mandate is going to cost us more. Also I've heard from hospitals that the medical device tax will be passed onto us. In addition, the regulations from the affordable care act will hurt hiring and keeping the current employees of many employers.
You're worried about your current state of things (assuming you weren't being hypothetical in your statement). I'm saying that if they keep piling on the national debt as it has been for the last 5 years, and adding all this extra regulatory nonsense, of course more jobs will hire in China.

Greg The Democrat

Dear John, how lovely it would be if you were the one laid off, or perhaps you were the one who had a son or daughter with cancer and couldn't afford health insurance because BIG Corporate laid you off and took your job to China. I don't believe there is medication for someone as stupid and uncompassionate as you, but we need one.