So the latest Republican effort to sabotage the next stage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is another government shutdown. Because that worked out so well for them last time.
Late this week, a gang of 80 House members signed off on a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, urging the Ohio GOP leader to essentially defund Obamacare by refusing any spending bills that would prevent a government shutdown late next month.
(And, yeah, it’s already that time again. The federal fiscal year wraps up Sept. 30.)
While I appreciate the principle these guys are standing on, it’s a no-win situation for the right to plunge headlong into this strategy. We’re still suffering under the sequestration imposed by a lack of cooperation between the legislative and executive branches. And the Republicans still bear most of the blame for that, whether that’s fair or not.
And if you’ll remember, way back in the 1990s, Republican lawmakers tried that with then-President Bill Clinton. It backfired then, too.
Republicans have a golden opportunity in November to shore up their numbers in Congress, and maybe even make up a little ground. Shutting down a government already groaning under the weight of sequestration will torpedo any chance they have of making mid-term gains. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
And while I appreciate the arguments behind the various obstructionist tactics employed by both the House and red-state governors when it comes to PPACA, in practice they amount to little more than self-defeating stunts that only sour public opinion while surrendering political capital to the president and his allies.
Boehner will take heat over it (again) but he appears to be taking a more sober route, mulling a short-term continuing resolution that would table the discussion -- and keep the government running, Obamacare and all -- until after the fall election.
(Although it could be reasonably argued that the uncertainty stirred up by another round of federal budgetary stopgaps, battles and ultimatums does far more harm to the economy than any single piece of legislation. how can we expect entrepreneurs to start up shops, employers to start hiring and investors to start spending under a cloud of federal chaos and questions marks?)
It hurts, I know, but the best Republican strategy at this point would be to strike a budget deal and let it ride. That way, if Obamacare stumbles and falls (and next year promises a good chance of just that) then it does so on its own merits. Or lack thereof.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard how hard it is to do the right thing. Maybe it's time the Republicans heard it, too.
I’ll drop the mic with a nod to Teddy Roosevelt, an old-school Republican. “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”