The title of this post might lead one to believe I am about to be critical of those who have tied the defunding or delaying of ObamaCare to the funding of government and the increase in the debt limit.
Actually, though, I am heading in the opposite direction.
Let’s get started with the following quote from Douglas Wilson:
“Only about seventeen percent of the government has shut down—and the more innocent part. In the genius that marks Washington, whenever we get to the pushing and shoving part of our parliamentary procedures, they do things like shut down the Washington monument, and not the parts that are killing us. It is as though someone came up with a form of political chemo that would kill the healthy cells and leave the cancer alone.”
This quote is part of a blog post that discusses the problem that “Respectable Figures” are having with the efforts of House Republicans (and others) who are “playing smashmouth” in the effort to defund or otherwise slowdown ObamaCare.
Of course, conservatives are quite familiar with Respectable Figures and used to seeing them at work, both in the federal and Texas governments.
The idea that defunding ObamaCare is an “unrealistic goal” has been the mantra of the Respectable Figures in this debate. But is it really unrealistic? There are two aspects of this question to cover here.
First, is defunding ObamaCare an unrealistic goal in the context of the current budget impasse? Andrew McCarthy from National Review Online addresses this:
Victor (Davis Hanson) aptly observes that “the politics are likely to change the longer this [shut-down] drags on, and at some point Obama will see the writing on the wall.” That was the point those of us who’ve supported the defunding effort, even to the point of shutdown, made all along. Bipartisan Beltway wisdom holds that all things are static: Obamacare is the president’s legacy and he will never give an inch on it (as if he hadn’t given plenty already), Republicans only control one-half of one-third of the government (as if it weren’t the one-half of one-third that Obama needs for the spending he wants), the press will fully insulate the president (as if it could), and therefore the president will never move off his obstinacy (as if Gitmo had been shuttered, KSM had been tried in civilian court, the Bush tax cuts had been repealed . . .).
Is it likely that Obama and the Democrats will go for defunding ObamaCare? No, but neither was it likely that the Texas Public Policy Foundation would prevail against popular efforts (among the Austin Respectable Figures) to impose a payroll tax on Texas employers (2006) and a gasoline tax on all Texans (2009). But we did.
In another column, McCarthy puts it this way:
The Republican establishment — the guys who told us that for a trillion dollars and several thousand American casualties, we could build “Islamic democracies” that would be reliable U.S. allies in the War on Terror — say it is Ted Cruz who is “delusional” and the effort to stave off Obamacare that is “unattainable.
These self-appointed sages are, of course, the same guys who told us the way to “stabilize” and “democratize” Libya was to help jihadists topple and kill the resident dictator — who, at the time, was a U.S. ally, providing intelligence about the jihadists using his eastern badlands as a springboard for the anti-American terror insurgency in Iraq.
Whether or not ObamaCare is defunded or delayed or anything else during the current debate over funding government, McCarthy’s quote points us toward the second aspect of this question, which is even more important. It seems as if the Respectable Figures in many cases have forgotten that this is a long-term battle, that the fight to repeal ObamaCare will not be won overnight, and that if we don’t continually bring this fight to the American people, ObamaCare may not be repealed at all. In fact, one gets the sense that many of the Respectable Figures in this debate have already given in to the fact that ObamaCare is the “law of the land” and any effort to repeal it—now or in the future—is a wasted effort.
Many people forget the need to continually bring this battle before the American people and remind them about just how bad ObamaCare is; and how unless the American people stand up and send a conservative majority to Congress, we’ll never be rid of it.
Then again, many of the Respectable Figures don’t want to take on ObamaCare in order remain popular and remain in power, because, as we all know, having Respectable Figures in power is more important than sticking with conservative principles.
Here’s Doug Wilson again on this point:
What happened was this. The Republicans got into a saloon brawl with the Democrats, much to my delight, but now the polls have come in — the American public is disgusted with everybody, but especially with the Republicans. Their popularity is about as healthy as https://www.healthcare.gov/. And on Special Report last night, Charles Krauthammer said that this was a “catastrophe.”
But why? Did anybody seriously think that we could be under this pile of debt, entitlements, quantitative dysentery, unfunded mandates, strangulatory regulation, wild promises, old school graft, hallucinogenic budgeting, and special interests — all in all, a magnificent specimen of a corruptocracy in full flower — and somehow fix it while remaining popular? Are you joking me?
President Obama understands this. He doesn’t care about being popular. He cares about winning, even though some of his policy wins may lead to electoral defeats—such as losing the majority in the House over ObamaCare. He can take this approach beacuse knows that once he gets these laws on the books that the Respectable Figures will do exactly what they are doing today—accepting the status quo in their quest to keep their Respectable Figure status intact. So while he may lose an election or two in the shortrun, in the longterm his policy goals will be achieved.
Here’s Wilson one last time:
I have a parable. One time a bus driver was headed down the road with a bus full of idiot school children singing one of their favorite songs, something where the chorus ended with a shouted refrain — “if you don’t like, or even love, Janet Yellen . . . I’m tellin’!” The verses were all about the place where “handouts grow on bushes,” a place called the Big Rock Candy Entitlement Office. The children were warming to their work, but the bus driver kept worrying about the signs that said the bridge up ahead was out. If he stopped the bus, and the song, then what would happen to his popularity? Would the kids still like him? Of course, the kids never had liked him, and never would, but wouldn’t it be better to him to just shut up and help drive off the bridge? After all, if he didn’t keep driving the way they wanted, they might not even let him help drive off the bridge. They might even call him names on the way down to the river. That would be a catastrophe.
Wilson makes a very good point above when he notes that undoing big government intervention in the market is often going to be quite difficult. That is a point we need to be reminded of daily so we can be ready to respond to the fall out. The costs of moving away from government intervention toward a free market may be significant. This may include becoming quite unpopular. But that doesn’t mean the efforts aren’t worth tackling. Since the alternative is driving the bus off the bridge.