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September 17, 2013

Delay Vs. Defund Fight Isn't Just A Disagreement About Tactics, It's About A Lack Of Trust

If you're pro-defund, as I reluctantly am, and you get into a discussion with a pro-delay person, the first thing that is likely to come up is they will tell you something along the lines of, "we all hate ObamaCare, we just disagree how to deal with it". While that might be true the divide often comes down to trust.

One of my problems with the "delay" types is they act as if there's is a perfectly reasonable strategy that will obviously work where the crazy defund types are living in a fantasy world. As Ben Howe put it on Twitter yesterday, the delay types assume all their projections about the future are facts and the defund types are dealing in unprovable guesses that have no chance of happening.

Let's play out the delay crowds argument and see where it goes without their stealing first base like that.

What if Obama doesn't accept the Boehner/Cantor offer to delay ObamaCare for a year? Jay Carney has already said Obama would veto that, just like they said they'd veto a defunding bill. Team Delay insists we take the threat seriously when it comes to defunding but not delaying.

So what then? We're supposed to believe that they along with Boehner and Cantor weren't willing to go over the fiscal cliff, they aren't willing to deal with a government shutdown but they are TOTALLY committed to not raising the debt ceiling and seeing the government "default" (not be able to pay some bills) unless Obama caves on delay? Really? You guys have avoided every fight and punted at every chance but you are totally going to the mattresses on the thing that might have huge fiscal repercussions for the world economy?

Let's just say I have my doubts.

But let's be sporting and grant Team Delay their assumptions and they magically get Obama to agree to a year long delay (it would have to be more than that since it would need to go into January 2015 to reflect the results of the 2014 elections).

Again, let's be sporting and say the GOP holds the House and gains the Senate with 52-54 votes. Then we can pass a full repeal via reconciliation and Obama will veto it and then....what? Then you'll go for a government shutdown? f it's going to be a disaster for the GOP in 2013, why would it be any better for the GOP then than it is now? "Well, the election will make it clear that people don't like ObmaCare". Ok, but we know now they don't like it. If you're betting you're going to win all these Senate seats because of opposition to ObamaCare, how is fighting for its repeal now going to hurt you?

Sure a shutdown is unpopular but so is ObamaCare. It's a jump ball as to which is more unpopular. The challenge for the GOP is to win that fight.

Again, the delay camp's arguments make some sense but given their track record of over-promissing and under-delivering, it's hard to take them seriously or give them much more credit than the longshot defund plan. Both strategies rest on weak assumptions but defund has the advantage of actually trying to achieve the goal. I'll take that over a triple bank-shot plan that if nine things all fall into place, we'll find ourselves right back where we started from...an inability to overcome a veto.

As an aside, one thing I'm seeing from inside the beltway types is the idea that the tea party is to blame for the state we find ourselves in. They keep saying things like "well if not for crazy candidates we'd have the Senate already and wouldn't be in this situation".

My response...

Stop pretending that only tea party candidates lost and establishment types won since 2010. There were plenty of missed opportunities on both sides.

More importantly, the reason there is such a thing as ObamaCare is because the same leadership that now scolds insurgents on how things should be done was in charge in 2006 and 2008 when Democrats ran up huge margins in both houses to pass the damn thing. And the tea party sure as hell didn't pick Mitt "I Like Mandates" Romney in 2012. You may not like how they are trying to clean up the mess but never forget who made it.

If you think the problem are a handful of conservatives in the House who won't let Boehner and Cantor work their magic, consider that without those members you are trying to end-run around, Boehner would still be the MINORITY leader and MINORITY whip.

And spare me the notion that conservative groups are only rabble rousing to take in money. Maybe they are fund raising but deal with people like Targeted Victory who brought you Project Orca.

So having vented my spleen over this fight, what should we do? Well, if we can't defund it I think the GOP should pass a CR that includes a provision mandating that the Affordable Care Act be implemented as passed. Remove all the delays, waivers and exemptions Obama has spent years granting. We passed it and we know what's in it, implement the law as written, voted on and signed. No delay in the employer mandate, no carve out for unions, no pass for congressional staffers. Let Obama shutdown the government because he doesn't want to implement his law. If he does that then the case will be made by Obama how bad the law is and then repeal becomes the goal.

Some people want to paper over these differences in strategy, temperament and yes, even philosophy. I don't. I think the damage is done and the sooner the split happens between conservatives and the GOP the sooner we can stop fighting and start trying to win converts.

Added: I quoted Ben Howe above from a Twitter conversation we were having with others on this yesterday. It seems he was thinking along the same lines in following up. Take a look at his piece from this morning for more on the "if not this hill, which?" questioning of Team Delay.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:21 AM

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