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Stupid Senatorial Threats

Utah Senator Mike Lee recently wrote a piece for USA Today where he laid out the case for defunding the Affordable Care Act, AKA ObamaCare.

I’m no fan of Senator Lee, certainly, but he does manage to squeeze in several cogent points.

“By a margin of two to one, Americans say ObamaCare will make their family’s health care situation worse, not better,” Senator Lee said. “Just 12% support the individual mandate. Doctors don’t want it. Businesses oppose it. Unions say it’s bad for workers. Studies show it will drive up premiums and force Americans off their health plans.”

Wow! Look at that! His Obamacare diagnosis is right on the money. Where we differ is in the details of the proposed cure, which is, in a word, stupid.

“Congress controls the power to appropriate funds,” writes Senator Lee. “The House can add language to the next spending bill… that says Congress will fund all the functions of government… except ObamaCare.” He concludes that “Senate Democrats will have a choice: Fund the government or shut it down to protect ObamaCare.”

See? Stupid.

Undoubtedly, Senator Lee realizes that even if Senate Democrats agree to this, which they won’t, President Obama would have to sign such a bill into law, which he won’t, so all he’s left with is an empty threat, which he claims is no threat at all. At a recent town hall, Lee was pressed on this by his ardent supporters, who are apparently smarter than he is, and he responded  by saying “A lot of people have blatantly mischaracterized it as a shutdown threat,” Lee said. “It is not.”

Um, it’s not? What happened to “Senate Democrats will have a choice: Fund the government or shut it down to protect ObamaCare […?]” How is that not a shutdown threat? Did he even bother to read his own op-ed?

I suppose it’s not a shutdown threat if the president willingly signs a blackmail bill that guts his signature legislation and throws the entire health care system into even more turmoil than it is already weathering. That might happen just as soon as baboons burst forth from my bowels and wing their way to the Caribbean.

Even a fifteen-year-old girl can figure out just how stupid that is.

For it was at this same meeting that teenager Samantha Jensen asked him, “If you don’t want a shutdown, why are you proposing a bill that will do just that, that will shut down the government if they don’t defund Obamacare?”

Lee’s answer: “I never, ever, ever proposed a shutdown.”  See? Never ever ever! Rather than clarify his incoherent argument, he piles on the intensifiers. Ask him again tomorrow, and he’ll insist that never in a million years, never ever ever times infinity would he propose a shutdown. And then he’ll push forward with his loopy government shutdown proposal.

As of now, he’s enlisted a whopping 14 Senators for his non-shutdown shutdown threat, which means… um, well, not a lot. 51 votes constitute a majority, but you’d need 60 votes to end an inevitable Democratic filibuster of this nonsense. That means you need another 31 Republicans  willing to embarrass themselves, as well as five Democrats willing to betray their party and their president for a lost cause that will enrage the nation and not actually do anything.

Anyone want to bet me that this will happen? I promise to give really good odds.

No, the end result will be an exercise in futility that, in the nigh-unto-impossible event it proves successful, would only manage to make it more difficult for people to get access to Social Security or Medicare but will have no practical effect on ObamaCare’s implementation. In reality, this push will make Lee look like a bigger impotent joke than he already is, which will be difficult, given his legislative vapidity until now.

You would think that a lawyer like Senator Lee would be willing to pay attention to precedent.

Recall that in 1995, Newt Gingrich made a similar calculation that President Clinton would yield to Republican demands in order to avoid a government shutdown. He didn’t, and the Republicans took the blame. Yet back then, the Republicans had commanding majorities in both houses of Congress. Today, the Democrats have the Senate and the White House, and the political blowback to this kind of posturing from the minority party would undoubtedly be far greater than what the GOP experienced last time they tried a boneheaded stunt like this.

Yes, ObamaCare is a mess. It’s too expensive; it’s unworkable, and, as the latest jobs reports suggest, it’s pushing people away from full-time employment and into part-time work. So I’m happy to applaud Senator Lee’s motives. His methods, however, are idiocy on parade.

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  1. This is exactly why I think Republicans are pushing themselves into oblivion. Every time I hear the phrase “Repeal Obamacare”, I can’t help but think what an idiot. One thing I think those on the left have figured out and effectively use to their advantage, is that people like it when you give them something and don’t like it if you take something away (unless you’re giving them something better.) Obamacare promises to provide benefit to a lot of people, particularly in the short term. You can’t just take that promise away or make threats of taking that promise away and not expect blow back. Come on Republicans – quit chanting “Repeal Obamacare” and change it to “Replace Obamacare” and actually come up with something that’ll work.

    One other thought – Obamacare isn’t just pushing people into part-time work, it’s pushing them into significantly reduced hours part-time work. On BYU campus, we’ve already been told we’re not allowed to average more that 29 hours / week. I’m pretty sure this isn’t the only place doing that.

  2. Senator Lee should do what the rest of the republicans do…..whatever the democrats tell them to. Perhaps he should listen to Senator McCain. He has the party line down pat.

  3. Well, the republicans destroyed themselves quite a while before Mr. Lee came along. The guys with R’s after their names have been quite irrelevent for some time. Somehow they don’t believe so. At least his approach to self-destruction is fresh.

    Destruction by fire = Destruction by submission. The Republican party is no worse off, and certainly no less electable, than before his show.

    • “The Republican party is no worse off, and certainly no less electable, than before his show.”

      Every single poll taken on the subject disagrees with you.

      • Unelectable is unelectable. Kind of like dead and really dead. Besides when did we conservatives start believing polls.

        Everyone knows Obamacare is bad. Even the supporters. Dems are now jumping. It may have been an ineffective fight at the time, but now SOME republicans can say they did everything they could to stop it. And nobody’s government check was ever really in jeopardy. Not even good republicans would stand in the way of the free-flow on entitlement.