Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Upside Down Politics

Today is Fair and Balanced Day. 

The Wall Street Journal editorial page is chastising, even excoriating Congressional Republicans for having botched the debt ceiling negotiations so badly. And Andrew Sullivan, reliable supporter of President Obama joining people like Robert Gibbs-- yes, that Robert Gibbs-- in calling the Obamacare website the administration’s biggest blunder.

It’s not about speaking truth to power, but about speaking truth to friends who do not want to hear it. Effectively, it's a good sign.

First, today’s WSJ editorial (boldface of money graph, mine):

… House Republicans also blundered in refusing to accept the Senate proposal to delay a reinsurance tax of about $60 a year per insured person. Democrats originally passed this tax to help float ObamaCare's exchanges. Insurers pay the per capita fee, which they can pass along to consumers in higher premiums, and the fee goes to a fund that then pays back the insurers if they end up with a mix of patients with higher than average claims.

House Republicans objected to the delay in the tax because unions supported the delay for their own insurance plans, but that was short-sighted. Senate Democrats were willing to delay the tax for a year to please labor and in return agree to better income verification for Americans who apply for ObamaCare subsidies. So out of political pique, House Republicans opposed two ways to make ObamaCare less destructive. Senate Republicans should try to retain it in their compromise.

This is the quality of thinking—or lack thereof—that has afflicted many GOP conservatives from the beginning of this budget showdown. They picked a goal they couldn't achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn't sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.

President Obama called their bluff, no doubt in part to blame the disruption on the GOP and further tarnish the party's public image. Now the most Republicans will get out of this is lower public approval and a chance to negotiate with Mr. Obama again before the next debt-limit deadline. If the Senate passes its compromise, Mr. Boehner will have little choice other than to bring it to the floor and let it pass with votes from either party. Mr. Obama will have to deliver enough Democratic votes to pass it.

At least that's better than getting the blame for whatever happens if Treasury stops sending out Social Security checks in order to prioritize debt repayments. The politics of that are little better than defaulting on debt. Republicans can best help their cause now by getting this over with and moving on to fight more intelligently another day.

And now, Sullivan, also in a take-no-prisoners style:

To my mind, it’s by far the biggest error Obama has made since taking office. To bungle the rollout of his core domestic initiative is unforgivable. To have known about it long before and kept quiet is inexcusable. To offer no real explanation or to take any serious responsibility is governmental malpractice. At some point, the president has to reassert control and explain what has gone so horribly wrong and chart a course for correction. Those responsible must be fired. 

As Alice said: “curiousier and curiousier.”


n.n said...

First, the goal of defunding, or rather not funding, Obamacare was achievable. Second, the shutdown was chosen and ordered by Obama and supported by Reid. Finally, the debt limit has been repeatedly violated. Obama and Reid have enjoyed compromises, only to disregard their promises. They are notorious for negotiating through coercion and acting in bad faith.

It is Obama and Reid's choice to devalue capital and labor through trillion dollar deficits. It is Obama and Reid's choice to devalue human life by normalizing elective abortion and reducing a human life to a commodity.

That said, the final solution is evidence that the dynamic in government is far from dichotomous.

n.n said...

It's ironic that Obama promised to use a scalpel, but has only done hatchet jobs. Perhaps he only favors scalpels in "clinics". Reid appears to favor Obama's disposition. They complement each other perfectly.