The GOP's Alamo for Obamacare

It appears that many right-wing Republicans are dead serious this time about defunding Obamacare. Utah Senator Mike Lee is circulating a letter among his colleagues that would threaten a government shut-down unless all funding for Obamacare is removed from the continuing resolution that must be passed by September 30.

If Republicans in both houses simply refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that contains further funding for further enforcement of Obamacare, we can stop it. We can stop the individual mandate from going into effect.

Signers of the letter include the No. 2 and No. 3 Republican senators, John Cornyn of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota, as well as Marco Rubio, who is desperately trying to get back in the good graces of the GOP base after the immigration-reform fiasco.

In the House, it's North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows who is spearheading the defunding effort:

We have 64 of my colleagues on this letter and we’re asking the leadership not to bring anything to the floor that has funding for ObamaCare in it.

Can it be done? Perhaps a more pertinent question is, should it be done?

Why is it the position of so many on the right that blowing up the government will accomplish something? It doesn't cut spending nearly enough. It doesn't shrink government. It only gives the opposition the chance to demagogue against the irresponsibility inherent in putting so many who are dependent on government at risk. It's a needless irritant that causes voters to question the seriousness of Republicans when it comes to governance.

In short, it's crazy. And doing it in order to defund Obamacare is a fool's errand.

The right wing doesn't like to hear it, but the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It can't be repealed as long as Obama sits in the White House and Democrats control the Senate (or nearly so). The law is very unpopular, but not overwhelmingly so. The latest Fox News poll shows a 53-40 split for repeal, with most other polls showing a plurality in favor of getting rid of it. There is no great public drumbeat for repeal.

That may change once the full, detrimental effects of Obamacare are felt by individuals and businesses, and when it becomes apparent what a drag the law is going to be on the economy. But Obamacare is always going to have its supporters too, as Byron York points out:

On the other hand, a lot of thoughtful conservatives are looking beyond Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, the day the law (except for the parts the president has unilaterally postponed) is scheduled to go fully into effect. On that day the government will begin subsidizing health insurance for millions of Americans. (A family of four with income as high as $88,000 will be eligible for subsidies.) When people begin receiving that entitlement, the dynamics of the Obamacare debate will change.

At that point, the Republican mantra of total repeal will become obsolete. The administration will mount a huge public relations campaign to highlight individuals who have received government assistance to help them afford, say, chemotherapy, or dialysis, or some other life-saving treatment. Will Republicans advocate cutting off the funds that help pay for such care?