It's simply impossible for a party that controls only the House to "force" the effective repeal of a President's signature achievement. That's especially true when the only leverage the minority party has is the specter of a government shut down -- and the opponent knows that the last time the government was shut, it was the minority party that suffered politically. What possible incentive does the President and majority have to accede to the wishes of the minority?
The sad answer: None. And that isn't rocket science. That's just truth.
No doubt there have been some substantial strategic errors in getting us to this point -- but the big question is: What happens now?
Option 1: A shutdown. The House could send Harry Reid another CR that he refuses even to consider -- full of a variety of demands that the Democrats could spin. The government would shut down, and Republicans could trust that (1) the media would report the circumstances accurately; (2) the public wouldn't blame them; and (3) the president would somehow come around and agree to sacrifice his claim to a legacy. So do we feel that lucky?
Not likely. The last thing any president as egotistical as President Obama would do is to sacrifice his best hope for a place in the liberal patheon. He won't ever agree to defund or repeal ObamaCare -- no matter what. Instead, he will claim that any damage to the economy his own policies have weakened is the result of a shut down. The press and Democrats will help him. And before long, the GOP will be held responsible. Shut down is not the answer.
Indeed, if Ted Cruz wants to regain some of the good will that he has squandered among his colleagues, he should reach out to those who have supported him and explain that, in current circumstances, a shutdown will only offer the President an easy whipping-boy for his own mistakes and the Democrats a facially credible rationale for retaking control of the House.
Option 2: A clean CR -- giving Harry Reid what he and the President want. That's not a good option either. Why should their intransigence and absolute refusal to negotiate be rewarded?
The best bet is option 3.
Option 3: A clean CR -- except for the Vitter amendment eliminating ObamaCare subsidies for congressmen and their staffs. Then, if Harry Reid chooses to shut down the government, it is only because of his own refusal to ask senators even to vote on whether they should be held to the same standards as regular Americans. And that simple fact is hard for the press to mislead about and the public to misunderstand.
Or, if Reid does allow a vote, every senator (including the endangered Red State Democrats up for re-election next year) has to say whether our political class should receive special subsidies unavailable to the people who elect them. Good: Everyone should go on the record about this.
Anyone who genuinely cares about the ultimate repeal or defunding of ObamaCare should realize: The best way to defund or delay is to expose those doing the voting to the very real expenses and inconveniences of the law that the rest of us will face.
One final note: Purists in the House -- tempted to reject any CR that doesn't call for the defunding of ObamaCare -- should realize this: If they make it impossible for the GOP to pass any bill out of the House without Democrat votes, they will lose the opportunity to make the Senate vote on Vitter . . . the first step in delay or defund. They will only become complicit in handing Harry Reid and President Obama a total victory.
There's nothing wrong with getting rid of ObamaCare by inches . . . so long as it ultimately goes.