Strategy: GOP Weighs Raising Debt Ceiling In Exchange for Axing Obamacare Bailout

Posted: Jan 31, 2014 3:53 PM

"Okay, Democrats, we'll raise the nation's debt limit again, but let's make it contingent on blocking a wildly unpopular Obamacare bailout of insurance companies." That's the message Republicans may push in advance of the upcoming debt limit fight, according to the Washington Post. It would be a clean increase, aside from a vote to stop a widely-loathed idea. That's not a bad strategy as far as these things go; Senate Democrats won't go along with it, and the White House will almost certainly issue a veto threat. Let them. Republicans can turn right around and tell the public that Democrats are willing to endanger the "full faith and credit of the United States" in order to block a measure that would prevent the federal government from spending millions of taxpayer dollars to bail out health insurance companies who may lose money due to Obamacare's failures. I suspect that's a debate the GOP would be delighted to have. What might endangered Democrats have to say about the idea? It looks like Republicans may be united on this plan of attack:

If Republicans rally around this simple, uncomplicated ask, Democratic solidarity may fray rather quickly. A majority of Americans dislike Obamacare, and I'd bet that most haven't even heard of the radioactive bailout provision buried within the legislative text. Even if this gambit doesn't ultimately succeed, the GOP would at the very least have raised this issue to a point of prominence -- which would also include the fringe benefit of once again focusing Americans' attention on Obamacare more generally. Speaking of which, let's review a few Obamacare updates:

(1) Unions are hopping mad about the law, continuing a pattern that has fractured the Lefty coalition for some time.

(2) Maryland's Obamacare exchange is so dysfunctional that Democrats are attacking each other over it. Pass the popcorn.

(3) It looks like Oregon's Democratic governor has been caught red-handed in a major Obamacare lie. He claimed publicly that he wasn't aware of the disastrous path his state's program was on until after everything went south. Not true, via KATU-TV:

The [governor's] claim was incredible because the website had already missed its Oct. 1 launch date. Kitzhaber was, in effect, saying he didn’t know there were problems until weeks after one of the most important projects under his watch had already failed. It was incredible because mountains of reports from the state’s quality-assurance contractor had been raising glaring red flags for almost two years. It was incredible because the state had implemented a stringent set of checks and balances for the specific purpose of making sure the project didn’t spiral without people in power knowing. And it was incredible because the KATU Investigators have unearthed emails and conducted interviews laying out repeated attempts by lawmakers and others involved with the project to get Kitzhaber’s help in righting what was clearly a sinking ship. KATU’s review of thousands of pages of emails and reports, as well as interviews with many of the key people involved, suggest that either Kitzhaber knew more than he has acknowledged, or that he and his staff somehow remained oblivious to the unfolding disaster despite numerous attempts to bring it to their attention.

A smoking gun:

“If you were the investor and I your legal counsel, I would be advising you that the QA report makes it abundantly clear, the HIX-IT project is on a path toward failure and disgrace,” he wrote...Richardson said he called the governor several days later because he had received no response, and Kitzhaber then returned his call. “He assured me that he understands the severity of the situation and that he will talk with Goldberg directly and get this taken care of,” Richardson told KATU.

Kitzhaber now looks like an incompetent liar. Elsewhere in his state, a promising Republican US Senate candidate is hosting a fundraiser with fellow medical doctor Ben Carson. I wonder if Kitzhaber's lies and Obamacare's problems might come up at the event.

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