Let’s hope, although the Republicans better have an alternative insurance-reform plan ready to go or the idea of repeal is useless. Imagining what would happen to people’s insurance, the economy, and the entire health care industry if Obamacare is yanked with no substitute ready to replace it is beyond the ken of our understanding. Millions would see their premiums skyrocket without subsidies, states would be stuck holding the bag on Medicaid expansion, massively increasing their costs, while rules governing doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and the rest of the industry would still be enforceable. The economic dislocation and confusion would be unprecedented.
Still, Obamacare is worth repealing. Removing the tentacles of the state from one sixth of the economy will be extremely disruptive but, in the end, probably worth it.
Back to the present hallucination that defunds Obamacare, the Senate isn’t the only actor in this fantasy, of course. Looming over the defunding scenario is the dark visage of Lord Sauron, sometimes referred to as President Obama. In the House GOP scheme, after Senate Democrats have a road to Damascus moment and vote to defund a bill they voted for in 2010 and defended for the last three years, the continuing resolution lands on the president’s desk where he is so terrified of the political consequences of a government shutdown that he cuts off his own testicles and signs it.
And we all lived happily ever after.
“Ted Cruz and [Utah Sen.] Mike Lee have been asking for this fight,” said Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, a reliable conservative. “The conservative base has been asking for this fight. So we’re gonna give ’em the fight.”
And that pretty much sums up the reason why so many Republicans — perfectly aware that they are beyond tilting at windmills and are now upside down with their heads stuck in the mud — are going to vote for this strategy. Shadow boxing with phantoms is being sold as a “fight” because this proves that Republicans are “serious” about getting rid of Obamacare.
PJ Media’s Andrew McCarthy explains:
Resistance is futile, in other words, so why resist at all? It’s an ironic argument since it seems Republican leadership only resists when doing so is futile, when the resistance is token. Thus the prior votes to repeal Obamacare, all forty of them, taken in the comfortable knowledge that they had no chance of succeeding – just going through the motions in faux fulfillment of a commitment to the base to work tirelessly to undo the law. But when something might not be futile – when it could actually work, and therefore entails hard work and risk – we generally find leadership in folderoo mode, babbling its one-half-of-one-third mantra.
Mr. McCarthy goes on to describe just why defunding is different than repeal and why it has a real chance of success. The Many Worlds Theory of quantum mechanics posits the notion that once a quantum event is observed, the universe is split into an infinite number of universes, each representing a different possible outcome for that event. For example, in our universe, you go out to check your mailbox tomorrow, and in another universe, when you open the door and reach in to pull out your mail, instead of bills and circulars, you find a check for a million dollars. Any outcome is possible.
So one supposes in some universe in the quantum firmament, there is scenario where Democrats in the Senate vote for defunding Obamacare and, in a grand ceremony at the White House, President Obama signs the CR with a flourish, thanking Republicans for saving America.
Meanwhile, back on planet earth, this defunding mirage is tearing at the vitals of the Republican Party. It has aroused enormous animosity and bitterness among the base, who are demanding that the attempt be made not because it has any chance whatsoever for success, but because the effort itself will prove that the establishment is paying attention to the right wingers and that they can be controlled like a bunch of first graders lining up for a fire drill. The 40 or so votes to defund Obamacare, as Mr. McCarthy points out, weren’t serious and didn’t prove that members were sufficiently dedicated to getting rid of the law. Ergo, Republican lawmakers must pretend that the defunding hallucination is real by voting for it in the House and filibustering any continuing resolution in the Senate that authorizes one cent for the law.
There is no objective reality at work here. But as ideology is refined and sharpened even more, fewer and fewer Republicans dare stray off the right-wing reservation. If the right wing can turn on Ted Cruz, who in the entire GOP caucus is safe?