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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