In which The Maltese Falcon explains why defunding Obamacare won’t work

August 26, 2013

satire film Bogart Greenstreet Maltese Falcon

On an emotional level, I sympathize one hundred percent with the move fronted by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to fight Obamacare by passing a continuing budget resolution that funds all the operations of government except for Obamacare. The idea would be to put the onus for a government shutdown on Obama and the Democrats, thus forcing him to sign the bill to keep the government (and his constituency of federal employees) running.

The strategy, however, is dangerously flawed. And there’s a scene in The Maltese Falcon (1) that I think illustrates why defunding won’t work. Bear with me a bit, and imagine Obama as Sam Spade and Ted Cruz as Kasper Gutman:

Spade: “If you kill me, how are you going to get the bird? If I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you going to scare me into giving it to you?”

Gutman: “Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill.”

Spade: “Sure, but they aren’t much good unless the threat of death is behind them. See what I mean? If you start anything I’ll make it a matter of your having to kill me or call it off.”

Gutman: “That’s an attitude, sir, that calls for the most delicate judgment on both sides — because, as you know, sir, in the heat of action men are likely to forget where their best interests lie and let their emotions carry them away.”

Trouble is, I don’t think Cruz, Lee, Paul, and others in the “defund it” caucus have exercised that delicate political judgment and conservatives itching for a fight are letting their “emotions carry them away.”

In today’s Conservative Intelligence Briefing, David Freddoso explaining why this is a bad plan, and it’s for the same reasons Gutman couldn’t afford to kill Spade. Here’s an excerpt:

1) Even if you like this tactic, it’s important to understand first that it is indeed a threat to shut down the government, despite its advocates’ protestations to the contrary. This tactic cannot work, even under the most optimistic scenario, unless its advocates shut down the government for a very long time and eventually force President Obama to cry “uncle.”

You can’t make Obama sign a bill defunding Obamacare over the mere threat of a government shutdown. Not only is the actual shutdown necessary, but it will have to last several weeks, months, or even straight through until the next election before he’ll sign such a bill.

Obama sacrificed control of Congress to get his health care law. He isn’t going to sign a bill defunding it now because he’s spooked by the prospect of a couple of days of embassy, Library of Congress, passport office and National Park closures. He’d much sooner let the shutdown happen and take political advantage of the consequences — stories of government workers going months without a paycheck and Americans forced to cancel international travel because they can’t get passports renewed. And even if it gets to the point that Obama really, really wants to cry uncle, he probably won’t ever get the chance to do it, because the Democratic Senate will not pass any appropriations bill that defunds Obamacare.

Two points, in my opinion, are key: first that the Democratic-controlled Senate will never pass a defunding resolution that comes out of the House. Budget bills are immune to filibuster under Senate rules, so all Reid has to do is pass his own resolution that funds Obamacare (he’ll only need 51 votes) and send it to conference committee to work out a “compromise” with the House. And then, if the House holds firm, it will be endless cries of “extremist, heartless Republicans,” which I guarantee you the MSM will support wholly. It would be a PR battle I very much doubt our side could win and which could cost us heavily in the coming elections.

Second, if a resolution does pass the Senate, he can veto it safe in the knowledge that it won’t be overridden. Heck, Reid could let a few vulnerable Red-state Democrats vote for it, giving them cover in the 2014 elections, and then sustain the veto. (He’d only need 33 or 34 out of his caucus.) As Freddoso points out, Obama has already shown himself willing to sacrifice his own caucus to win passage of Obamacare; what makes anyone think he, not facing reelection, will cave now knowing that he can probably win the messaging war?

No, the better plan is to fight this anti-constitutional monstrosity where it’s weakest and where we have strong public support: its failure to lower the costs of health care, its burdensome taxes and regulations, its disruption of existing health care arrangements, and the unfairness of its blatant cronyism, for example delaying the employer mandate (illegally) while leaving the individual mandate in place. Attacking on those fronts is not only realistic, but it would keep the Democrats on the defensive.

Do that, pick our battles wisely, and we can still beat this thing.

Footnote:
(1) On my list of top-ten movies, ever.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Obamacare: A Get-Rich-Quick Scheme for Washington Insiders

August 26, 2013

When government tries to control the economy, the real winners are those who can manipulate the laws in their favor. As in so many cases, it’s true with Obamacare, too.

International Liberty

Want to know why – as shown by this map – most of America’s richest counties are part of the metropolitan DC region?

Part of the answer is that federal bureaucrats are overpaid. Another part of the answer is that the Washington area is filled with consultants and contractors, and this shadow government workforce also is overcompensated by taxpayers.

But I’m guessing that DC’s vast population of lobbyists and influence peddlers dominate the upper end of the income spectrum.

And that community of back scratchers and deal makers are getting even richer thanks to Obamacare. Here’s some of what The Hill is reporting today.

ObamaCare has become big business for an elite network of Washington lobbyists and consultants who helped shape the law from the inside. More than 30 former administration officials, lawmakers and congressional staffers who worked on the healthcare law have set up shop on K…

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Cult of Personality Watch: the return of the Obama flag

August 26, 2013

So, there was a rally in D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Dr. King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Naturally, for some, the rally became all about Obama:

We’ve seen this example of the cult of personality before, at Democratic Party headquarters in Lake County, Florida.  In that case, the local chairwoman couldn’t see what the problem was. As I wrote at the time:

What bothers me though, is that she didn’t see anything wrong with, in essence, promoting veneration of The Leader. In America, we hold dear the ideas and ideals of our Founding; we respect the offices and the people who hold them, but the officeholders are subordinate to the ideas. We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States, to what it symbolizes — individual liberty, constitutional government, the rule of law — not to the man or woman who holds the office.

But, in the demonstration in D.C. as well as in Florida, the flag-wavers were doing just the opposite: venerating the man and not the principle, swearing fealty to a person , not an ideal. This act symbolizes a rejection of reason –constitutionalism, the rule of law, compromise in mutual best interest– and is instead an in-your-face embrace of the irrational, the philosopher-president who can interpret the national will better than the individual and for the good of all.

In other words, liberal fascism. How ironic –and sad–  that it should show up at a rally meant to honor one of the watershed moments in the history of American liberty.

RELATED: My blog-buddy ST and I were thinking along the same lines today. One of us is in trouble. 😉

UPDATE: Paul Mirengoff argues we’ve gone from “dream” to “nightmare” in 50 years.