Ryan: There Are Better Ways to Stop Obamacare than a Gov’t Shutdown

Daniel Doherty

8/5/2013 1:00:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

If anything, this is significant because Congressman Paul Ryan is perhaps the most popular conservative leader in the United States (skip to the 3:15 mark):

“A government shutdown...doesn't affect entitlements...And so the entitlement continues on even under a government shutdown scenario. So it's just not that simple and easy. Rather than sort of swinging for the fences and trying to to take this entire law out with discretionary spending, I think there are more effective ways of achieving that goal. We think we can do better by delaying this law."

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker recently said pretty much the exact same thing:

A range of Republican governors, including some who have refused to implement elements of the health initiative in their states, said in interviews that a standoff in Washington before the new fiscal year this fall could backfire on the party if it is seen as being responsible for bringing the government to a halt.

“I have made the case that Obamacare is not good for the economy, but I have some real concerns about potentially doing something that would have a negative impact on the economy just for the short term — I think there are other ways to pursue this,” said Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who hosted about half of the country’s governors here for the summer meeting of the National Governors Association.

Regular readers should be very familiar with the two leading arguments pervading the GOP vis-à-vis Obamacare. To recap, Sens. Cruz, Rubio and Lee (and others) argue that defunding the president’s health care law is the only way to stop it -- especially now that the law was upheld by the Supreme Court and the president won re-election. Indeed, modern American history informs us that once an entitlement is signed into law and fully funded, it will never be repealed. Thus the fight over the continuing resolution in September, in which members of Congress will appropriate money to fund the government, is in their view conservatives’ last stand, so to speak. Remember, too, the Senators are making clear they don’t want to force a government shutdown either; they want to fully fund the government with the sole exception of Obamacare. This is an important distinction.

By comparison, Congressman Ryan and Governor Walker (as well as a number of other Senate Republicans and state governors) seem to be taking a more nuanced approach. Of course, their objective is the same. But, they believe, delaying certain unpopular provisions of the law is almost certainly a more realistic and more popular way to do it.

The intraparty politics of this is fascinating. For starters, there have been some rumblings lately that Congressional Republicans unwilling to stand with the Conservative Triumvirate is, well, akin to a betrayal. In other words, if you’re not with us, you’re waving the white flag of surrender instead -- or so it seems to me. But this is an unfair characterization in part because as Guy noted last week (and as Ryan said in the video above) as a matter of practicality what Cruz, Lee and Rubio are working towards is seemingly impossible.

Still, there is a debate to be had here and it’s no secret that conservatives are engaged and want this law de-funded as soon as possible. So don’t be too surprised when millions of Americans sign this petition in order to make sure that happens.