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Belmont Club

Obamacare

September 20th, 2013 - 5:58 pm

For some in the public, it is an all too familiar scene. The hype, the build up — then the actual bout lasting one and half minutes of the first round. For those who have followed the Republican Party in their on again, off again challenges to the Obama administration the question has always been will they fight this time? Perhaps the biggest surprise in the the House voting to defund Obamacare (while preserving the other funding needed to keep the bureaucracy going) is how much spine they’ve shown.  All but one Republican Congressman voted to defund and two Democrats even crossed the aisle to join them.

That can only mean Congressmen are feeling the heat from their constituents, which should be no surprise since polls show the program is unpopular. President Obama explains its bad reputation as the product of “a lot of misinformation, most of it political, paid for by either the Republican Party, or various conservative groups”. Either that or it really is bad law.

However, as the left-wing Daily Kos noted more than a year ago, the most disliked part of Obamacare is the “Obama” part . They wrote, “obamacare [is] unpopular, unless it’s not called Obamacare”.  The association of the program with Obama is its biggest negative, as if the President were a proxy for his health program, and the fight over it a referendum on him.

By some extraordinary act of carelessness, omission or vanity, Democratic strategists have allowed the program — and it’s no beauty — to become synonymous with the President himself.  Not surprisingly conservative strategists have taken advantage by borrowing a page from Saul Alinsky’s book and personalizing the issue because its more effective that way. After all, “Obama shutting down the government” is much more incendiary than the idea of hundreds of nameless Congressmen doing the same thing. Andy McCarthy noted that a bill defunding Obamacare (but funding everything else) had the effect of putting the onus on the President personally, even if in technical fact it is really over to Harry Reid.

Obama is talking a brave game right now about how he won’t even entertain a budget that erases Obamacare – he vows a veto and a shutdown. But his political position is untenable, even with the media carrying his water. He will be grinding things to a halt to force Obamacare on the public even though he himself has slashed Obamacare for the benefit of big business and members of Congress. By agreeing to fund the rest of government, Republicans allow Obama a face-saving out: He can tell his base he preserved record-spending on social welfare programs, and that while Obamacare has been delayed, it is still the law and he will be back pushing for funding it in next year’s budget when the executive branch is more prepared to implement it.

The counterthreat to “Congress shutting down the government” is the more powerful Alinsky formulation “Obama is shutting down the government”. Those who say it can’t be done should recognize it’s done already. Everyone calls it “Obamacare”; nobody calls it the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”.

Harry Reid and company will almost certainly reinstate the Obamacare money provisions in the Senate and return the bill to the House for reconsideration. Then it’s back to Square One in a sense.

But this time, not really.

Where the nearly solid GOP vote to defund becomes significant is that it has anchored the half-hearted and wavering Republican rabble to a flag on Little Round Top. How they got there nobody knows but they got there. Whether they will stand their ground or run at Obama’s first onset remains to be seen. The usual pre-surrender signals are already being sent, for the GOP is already telegraphing a willingness to retreat down the hill to the field of Debt Limits, where they are more accustomed to do battle over a total spend. There the Pork Barrel Dragoons and the Log Rolling Hussars will display their prowess, ably supported by opportune charges of the Horsetrading Cavalry. The WSJ writes:

The conservatives’ victory Friday could be short-lived. The Senate in the coming week is expected to restore the health-care money and throw the government-funding bill back to the House. Republican leaders are hoping they will build up enough momentum to pressure Democrats to accept health-law cuts or other budget concessions during the debt-limit fight instead.

“The key thing is we are going to negotiate over the debt limit. The president isn’t going to be able to say, ‘I’m just simply not going to talk with anybody,’ ” Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.) told reporters Friday.

So for all their steadfastness so far, nothing is sure about the GOP. Those who from Syria and Iraq believe that President Obama is unequaled at turning victory into defeat may have never seen the Republican pell-mell retreat machine in action. What a sight that is to see: to the rear, run! But for the moment they have not fled yet and are holding uneasily on the hill with their teeth chattering like castanets in their heads.

But if politicians are timorous they are also opportunists. Nothing appeals to them like their own self-interest. Since the labors before the GOP resolve into three parts: how to cut money from the bloated budget (always painful), how to kill defective legislation (less painful) and how to score political points (very soothing) — the task for those opposed to Obamacare is to create enough political reward for the Republicans to endure the pain of killing enough bad legislation and cutting enough unnecessary spending.

Make it worth their while to stand fast, and they will hold firm out of pure self-interest. For Obama, however, the stakes are much higher. He needs to win because a fundamental retreat on Obamacare will knock the pins out from under the remainder of his Presidency. This introduces an element of asymmetry and changes the calculus.

Against an ordinary President, Republicans would not have the sufficient incentive to go for the kill. But the political payoff for beating Obama in his weakened state is extraordinary. It would not just result in scoring political points, it would turn Obama into a Lame Duck. Just as Obama’s name has burdened his health care bill with baggage, so too has his shaky political position in the fight upped the political rewards for defeating him.  The Republicans can lose this fight and be no more worse off than they are now. But if Obama loses this one consequences are much graver.

Will the Pork Barrel Dragoons, the Log Rolling Hussars and the Horsetrading Cavalry see this? They are not accustomed to seeing it, so long has it been since they’ve even raised their snouts from the trough.  But if they could but look … it’s important for their constituency to point it out.

Darius is on the field, but where is Alexander?

Darius is on the field, but where is Alexander?


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Top Rated Comments   
You can't win if you don't fight. If you are waiting for the perfect day when there is no possibility of losing before you strike you may rest assured that that day will never come. You pay the ante in the poker game but you don't dare to do anything but fold unless and until you're holding a strait flush. And your pile of chips used to pay the ante may well be exhausted before that time ever comes.

For what its worth the Republicans hold the House of Representatives. Play that card. What they have done for so long is to imitate General McClellan in the American Civil War. Maneuver, maneuver, but never actually engage the enemy. Just wait for the perfect day.

There is no perfect day. There will never be a perfect day. But there are some things worth fighting for even if it means you might lose. Go for it.

I realize that this might entail the possible end of political careers of Institutional Republicans, but you know what, I just don't care. I want results, or failing that, somebody who tries to achieve them. Anything less is contemptible.

My patience has been exhausted.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
A BOIL THAT WE MUST LANCE

How often must I write or care
About a health plan that’s unfair
I sit in front of walls and stare
At shadows as they dance
That punishes the young in health
By taxing them, a fine in stealth
That drains away the country’s wealth
And yet there is a chance
That God or someone higher up
Will take from us this froth filled cup
That gives us gruel on which to sup
A boil that we must lance
And tell Obama, “Say goodnight,
We’re turning out this goddam light
And yes I do enjoy the sight
Of you without your pants

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"However, as the left-wing Daily Kos noted more than a year ago, the most disliked part of Obamacare is the “Obama” part ."

You seemingly agree with this but I do not. Most disliked is the now manifest effect of the legislation.

The Kos contention personalizes opposition to Obamacare as a means to claim any opposition to anything Obama is mere racism.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (58)
All Comments   (58)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
You can't win if you don't fight. If you are waiting for the perfect day when there is no possibility of losing before you strike you may rest assured that that day will never come. You pay the ante in the poker game but you don't dare to do anything but fold unless and until you're holding a strait flush. And your pile of chips used to pay the ante may well be exhausted before that time ever comes.

For what its worth the Republicans hold the House of Representatives. Play that card. What they have done for so long is to imitate General McClellan in the American Civil War. Maneuver, maneuver, but never actually engage the enemy. Just wait for the perfect day.

There is no perfect day. There will never be a perfect day. But there are some things worth fighting for even if it means you might lose. Go for it.

I realize that this might entail the possible end of political careers of Institutional Republicans, but you know what, I just don't care. I want results, or failing that, somebody who tries to achieve them. Anything less is contemptible.

My patience has been exhausted.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
-"By some extraordinary act of carelessness, omission or vanity, Democratic strategists have allowed the program — and it’s no beauty — to become synonymous with the President himself."

Obamacare is aptly named as it represents the man himself:

It was dreamed up by ideologues from scratch
It has no history of success to recommend it
It was put in place through fraudulent acts
Millions of Americans will suffer as a result
It will never, ever work

Yep, sounds like Obama to me.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obamacare is the big two for one: it captures one-sixth of the economy and is, as we have already seen, an extremely rich and fertile ground upon which Obama can establish the law-of-man vs. the rule-of-law.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have reread most of the posts below. Including my own somewhat garbled ones. Many valid and opinions. I am forced to conclude: It is better to face the crises sooner than later, especially before it gets a power of its own, snowballing down hill so large and fast that we have no way to deflect it.

If not now, when? If not us, who? And, if we wait, what new distraction will cause us to delay again? When the withdrawal pains will be even greater.

Fight now, fight at every turn. This is our hill. And their ditch.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes. This is the moment and it will only be more costly -- financially and politically -- to delay. Will the Republicans be Chamberlain or Churchill? (We all fear the former, sadly.)
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Marsh Arab: "The key for conservatives to prevailing in the defunding/government shut down battle is to recognize their real opponent. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al are largely observers - it is the media that will carry the fight for them."

Exactly!

This link offers a short explanation of how MSM is Statism's center of gravity
https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=ZGVmYXVsdGRvbWFpbnxwYXRyaW90dW5pdHl8Z3g6MjYwZmFhNWQyMjczZjc1

fyi - this is the website where that document is located
https://sites.google.com/site/patriotunity/jp
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
great sites --here's a 1948 cartoon film from the site --it's a must see, if you have some younger family members on your email list.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mVh75ylAUXY
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Buddy - thanks for the kind words. Clearly you are a man of great intellect and exquisite taste.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
--thanks, rb --and i get it, we're gonna call fear & loathing 'intellect & taste' --message received, and great idea!
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment

"By some extraordinary act of carelessness, omission or vanity, Democratic strategists have allowed the program — and it’s no beauty — to become synonymous with the President himself. "

I think that the explanation is very simple. I think that the vast majority of low information Obamacare supporters are under the impression that getting Obamacare is going to be like getting an Obamaphone.

Free.

They have no idea that they are going to have to pay a big monthly bill. Out of their own pocket. Maybe they think that "affordable" health care means that they need to make a small copayment now and then, maybe $10 if they have to see a doctor or get a prescription. They have no idea that the law requires them to spend hundreds of dollars per month on insurance. No idea. They have never seen an actual insurance bill. If they ever had health insurance, it was deducted from the top of their paycheck. It has always been money they never saw, and now it's going to be a check they have to personally write every month that's bigger than a car payment, and the vast majority of the people writing that check will get nothing in return for it.

Of course, they won't even HAVE that money, because they've already tigntened their belts as much as they can in order to save their mortgage, keep food in the refrigerator and catch up enough on their bills that their utilities don't get shut off. But now?

Watch support for Obamacare fall through the floor when the realization kicks in. The Republicans under bid their hand. Come November and December, once low-information voters start going to the web site or talking to "navigators" and discover that they now need to start paying 10% of their income for Obamacare, the pressure to repeal the law will be so intense, Republicans could attach anything to that bill they wanted.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're right --it will be a crisis, and the solution offered will be 'single payer'. So much of what we call 'history' is a list of contrived crises by the usual suspects --the present crowd having succeeded wildly at Love Canal (take a look at the 'revisions' of THAT thing, which nevertheless spawned an entirely new industrial parasite), now uses 'never let a crisis go to waste' to mask their true motto, 'never let an opportunity to create a crisis go to waste'. Where you find misery, you find them, pocketing proceeds from the nation's actual work product.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Buddy, you are 100% correct. Obamacare was designed to fail in a way that would first get insurers to leave the market and then to get the public to demand a single payer "solution." None of this is the result of incompetence; it is all going the way they wanted it to go.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
There will be two solutions offered: Single Payer and Repeal Obamacare. The Republican House will never pass Single Payer, and the Democratic Senate will never repeal Obamacare. So the Democrats will say, "If you want Single Payer, give us the House." The Republicans will say, "If you want to repeal Obamacare, give us the Senate."

I think that there is a much, much greater chance of the Republicans taking the Senate than the Democrats taking the House. The implementation of Obamacare is going to traumatize the nation. The Democrats are going to be in the difficult position of saying, "look, we totally f**ked up Obamacare, but trust us to replace it with a totally government-run system on steroids." The Republicans are going to be saying. "The Democrats f**ked up Obamacare and cost everyone their insurance and their full-time job. Kill it with fire."

I think that people are going to be more inclined to vote to kill Obamacare with fire than to trust the Democrats to implement Single Payer. At any rate it's going to be a hell of a midterm election.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment

Obama throws down the gauntlet, again, telling Boehner that he won't negotiate on the debt ceiling. Evidently he has an endless supply of gauntlets. He throws them down because he can: the GOP won't pick them up and hurl them back. Maybe this time will be different. Over at RINO central--er, I mean NRO--Krauthammer and Goldberg councel surrender, yet again. Screw them.

buddy larsen: just for the record, the artist of the Alexander mosaic got it wrong. Alexander had blond hair, and his horse, Bucephelus (portrayed as chestnut) was pitch black. He was one crazy SOB, however.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
--crazy, but Issus had a preternatural intellectual component that John Keegan went into in "Faces of Battle" --that Darius, defending at home and with twice the army, drew up on the *far* side of the river to await the fight. Darius wanted Alexander to see the river barrier, but what Alexander saw was the open escape country in the enemy rear --in a mile-long battlefield of around 150,000 troops, he took extraordinary measures to get his personal presence and that of Darius into the same space --knowing from the river emplacement that avoidance of that event would be the last psychological goal the enemy commander would abandon. A great insight, except completely crazy, until it worked.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Republicans should draft a new law requiring that Obamacare, when and if eventually implemented, MUST be implemented in its original unexempted form. Any and all carveouts or modifications for special interest groups, ie., Congress, government employees, unions, certain types of business, specific companies, etc. will be voided. The only way to modify the original legislation should be through the legislative process itself wherein the modifying legislation passes both houses of Congress and is signed into law by the President.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I received yesterday a glossy letter from the VA. It included an upbeat advertisement for Obamacare but also the notification that enrollment in the VA automatically constitutes full compliance with the ACA. There is no requirement to purchase any insurance or pay any fine. BTW, they do not call it a "tax."

The solution is now obvious. Re-institute the draft and enroll everyone in the VA. Legal visitors can be ordered to have some insurance as a condition for entry. Japan has such a system I believe. Those ineligible for military service , i.e. illegals, will have a powerful incentive to depart the country.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
What I have suggested for some time, is that if they want free Govt medical care, also institute the military health standards.

Weigh ins twice a year, and if you are too heavy, no free medical care!

Run a 1.5 miles in 12 min or less, a bit longer allowed if you are older. Can't do it? No free medical care!

Urine analysis, anytime they want to impose it, on no more than 4 hours notice. Fail the test? No free medical care!

Now, aside from encouraging better health, this would also eliminate the sickest from free health care. That'll bring the cost way down!
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
'' ... 1.5 miles in 12 min or less ... ''?

To me that's too strict and I was a jogger for 25 years. I'd say run 15 miles at any speed, just make the distance. Another yardstick that used to be common for cardiac rehab was 3 miles in 45 minutes. That's a good walking pace, not all that easy, but doable for just about anybody.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Woops! 1.5 miles at any speed.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The key for conservatives to prevailing in the defunding/government shut down battle is to recognize their real opponent. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, et al are largely observers - it is the media that will carry the fight for them. Already, they've framed the story as, "Will the Republicans shutdown the government?" and every Republican is asked that in every interview. The response should be to challenge that framework and question the interviewer as to why they've sided with Obama and framed the discussion that way.

The most offensive thing about Obamacare is how it is being selectively applied, largely by fiat of the administration. The President has exempted big corporations and his friends in Congress, while sticking it to the common man. Further, he's so prideful about this legislation that bears his name that he will not even consider negotiating to even remove the rough edges.

This argument is not about whether Republicans will shut down the government, it's about the Washington elite (including the Media) making special rules for themselves and their friends while running roughshod over the rule of law and the consent of the governed. That's a reality that even the lofo voter intuitively will understand.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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