GOP Senator Roy Blunt seems a bit perplexed by this whole showdown over Obamacare that has to date shut down much of our government’s key functions and may yet involve the debt limit, thereby risking global economic security. He’s got a problem because he needs the GOP’s wild and stupid wing if he is going to remain a senator; there’s no way a coalition of GOP moderates and centrist Democrats would get him re-eleted – like a nineteenth century ingénue, coyly lifting her skirts to reveal a bit of ankle, he’s let a little too much corruption show. While that may titillate the big money boys, it does nothing for voters who pride themselves on their sober good sense. Which leaves Blunt, who is actually a smart man, doing a balancing act with the stupid as he attempts to navigate the potential pitfalls of indulging the latest GOP dumb-as-mud rampage.
As the clip below (h/t The Turner Report) shows, Blunt is trying to solve his problem by looking sage while offering a logically incoherent and historically inaccurate apologia for the GOP shutdown tactic:
Blunt’s rationale for the shutdown seems to hinge on three related assertions:
1. Republicans are just acting out because they didn’t get much say abut how the law was passed.
2. They are hurt that they didn’t get to amend or modify the law after it was enacted (he dubs it “unamendable”).
3. The President gets to unilaterally modify the law; Blunt’s evidence is that the administration has delayed the employer mandate. Ergo the GOP wants to delay the individual mandate in the name of fairness or something incoherent to do with which group would pay the most in penalties.
To answer Blunt’s first objection, you have only to remember when congress was involved in the endless process of healthcare “sausage making.” It was endless because of all the efforts to bring along Republicans; hopeless efforts because, far from being excluded from the legislative process, the hormonally challenged mental adolescents of the GOP were refusing to play; they were already involved in a separate game of kill-the-bill.
You don’t believe me? Remember the Gang of Six? After numerous delays to give the group, specifically the GOP members, time to come to agreement, the Chair of the group, Max Baucus, had to give up because the GOP members were “being told by the Republican Party not to participate.”
Blunt’s second claim ignores the fact that the GOP has consistently refused to work with Democrats to make the law better, opting instead for non-stop, futile efforts repeal the law or defund it. As a Los Angeles Times editorial observed today, there are “several things that members of Congress could be doing now to make it [i.e. Obamacare] work better, if Republicans were interested,” adding that:
In fact, when Republicans complain that Democrats won’t negotiate about Obamacare, what they’re really saying is that Democrats won’t agree to kill it, delay the insurance reforms and subsidies until after yet another election, or undermine the law in a way that could send premiums for individual coverage through the roof.
The GOP’s clear objective is to dismantle the act, not to improve it – and the single-minded focus on that goal is what has led to the partial government shutdown that began Tuesday. Democrats can hardly be blamed for refusing to bargain over how to sabotage the law before it fully takes effect.
The quote above also puts a spike in the heart of Blunt’s whine about the fact that the GOP “offer” to release their hostage in return for delaying the individual mandate was summarily rejected. It’s not, as Blunt seems to think, a question of fairness or a matter of revenue. It’s a question of the law’s success.
The employer mandate can be delayed, giving the government time to address problems, since it affects relatively few businesses and the delay will have little impact on the law’s implementation – a one year delay won’t, as Blunt claims, lead to many large business abandoning their employee health plans.However, delaying the individual mandate would “undermine the law in a way that could send premiums for individual coverage through the roof.” Obamacare cuts costs and can offer lower premiums because the individual mandate guarantees the big risk pool that is the holy grail of private insurance.
What Blunt’s actually arguing is that after the GOP refused to play the game, their Monday morning quarterbacking should entitle them to a do over – and if they don’t get it, they’re justified in shooting the umpire. Or, to quote Post Partisan‘s James Downie, ‘Republicans are acting like the little kid in a toy store who won’t take “no” for an answer.” Sadly for the GOP, that’s not the way things work – at least as long as the adults – the Democrats in this case – continue to act responsibly. And finally, no, Roy Blunt, these are not smart arguments for a smart man to make – no matter how he tries to obscure the embarrassing meaning of the things he’s saying with mumbly gobbledygook.