Obamacare Defunders Admit They Don't Have Votes to Defund Obamacare



Something weird is happening with the movement to defund Obamacare: It's still pressing on, despite admissions by some of the most vocal proponents that it's not working.

Heritage Action, the political arm of the influential conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, has been holding rallies across the country in hopes of bolstering support for a defunding push in conjunction with an upcoming continuing resolution to fund the government. This is as much an internal GOP fight as anything: In addition to the rallies, the group is reportedly spending $550,000 on advertisements pushing Republicans to go along with their plans.

What Heritage Action wants is for House Republicans to commit to a showdown: Defund Obamacare, or refuse to pass a continuing resolution—and shut down the federal government.

The big problem with that plan, of course, is that it doesn't explain how, exactly, a measure defunding the health law would get through the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats—or, for that matter, the White House.

The answer, it turns out, is that it wouldn't. Asked about a defunding bill, Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint responded, "We wouldn't expect Harry Reid to necessarily take it up. But if the House passed it and sent it to the Senate, it would give Republicans something to talk about that needs to be done, where the majority of Americans would be on their side."

So the plan to defund Obamacare isn't a plan to defund Obamacare. It's a plan to talk about defunding Obamacare. 

DeMint mentions public support. There's no question that polling is a problem for the health law. The Kaiser Family Foundation's August health tracking poll puts support for Obamacare at 37 percent—down eight points since last year's election. Some 42 percent of the public view the law unfavorably.

But polls also show that if Republicans pursued a defunding fight, a majority of Americans wouldn't be on their side. Even more tellingly, a large number of Republicans—perhaps a majority—wouldn't be on their side. Kaiser's August poll finds that 57 percent of the public would disapprove of defunding the health law. That means that defunding is even less popular than Obamacare itself. Indeed, 34 percent of Republicans, as well as 33 percent of those who say they view Obamacare unfavorably, say they would oppose defunding the law.

What's notable about this poll is that it doesn't even mention shutdowns, which tend to be quite unpopular. It simply asks about defunding. 

When government shutdowns enter the equation, support erodes even further, even amongst the GOP. Republican pollster David Winston asked voters what they thought of shutting down the government to defund Obamacare and found that 71 percent of the public opposed overall—a view shared by 53 percent of Republicans in his poll.

Congressional supporters of the defunding plan know they don't have what they need to make it happen. "We do not have the votes right now," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), whose letter kicked off the defunding push, admitted over the weekend.

So the Senate wouldn't take up a defunding bill. The votes don't exist—not in the House, and not in the Senate. And the public isn't on board with the plan either. 

Why is Sen. Cruz still stumping for defund? "This fight is likely to heat up in the month of September," he said on CNN over the weekend. And while the votes don't exist now, he said, there's always a chance! "I believe if we see a grass-roots tsunami, that is going to cause Republicans and Democrats to listen to the people. … It is going to take a tsunami and I'm going to do everything I can to encourage that tsunami."

That's not very convincing. But maybe that's not the point. The fantasy of defunding the law via a huge popular outcry might be comforting to some Obamacare opponents. But it's just a fantasy. And that means that if there's an actual strategy to dismantle the law, it's also a distraction.  


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  1. I’ll admit that I kinda like the idea of Congress asserting its budgetary authority over ObamaCare. Meanwhile Obama is pretty sure he’ll probably inform Congress eventually of his decision to go to war with Syria. Maybe he’ll send them a postcard or something.

  2. So they are truly libertarian after all.

    1. Pretty sure I saw what you did there…

  3. The republicans’ biggest problem on the health care issue is that they haven’t come up with an alternative. Even when they held the presidency and both houses, they never came up with any serious reform proposals.

    They’ll never get rid of Obamacare until they come up with an alternative, and the pre-Obamacare status quo is not an acceptable alternative.

    1. That’s because the only real option is repealing their history of dumbfuckeries. Since that would expose them for the fools they are, they can do nothing but play the Go Negative card.

      1. You shut up…..we’re totally “in the tank” for the republicans….shreeky reminds me of this fact every day!

    2. and the pre-Obamacare status quo is not an acceptable alternative.

      My guess is in 5 years you’ll change your mind.

      1. Actually, my wife and I are probably among the people who stand to benefit from Obamacare. At the moment, neither of us has employer-provided health insurance, and she has a whole bunch of pre-existing conditions that effectively make her uninsurable. For the moment, we’re living the uninsured dream and waiting for Obamacare to kick in.

        I still think Obamacare will be a train wreck, but some people will benefit from it, and I stand to be one of them.

        1. So on Oct 1 you can exchange shop for a private insurer, then buy a policy that will be effective Jan 1, 2014.

          What part of that will be a train wreck?

          Perhaps the software won’t work as planned (that is all I can think of).

          1. The part where the exchanges aren’t ready and don’t work and young people don’t sign and the fucking rest of it.

        2. so your saying you are cool with it because you are getting free handouts? Awesome -_- You know i could probably get SSI but i don’t because i am against the program. Though i question if i should say fuck my principles and just get my money out of it since i am sure i’ll be getting raped back and forth blindfolded by taxes in the future.

          1. He didn’t say that.

    3. They tried to reform medicare, which is the only major problem, and the Dems ran ads showing them pushing grandma off a cliff. Politically, their problem is they need an educational campaign to combat all the misinformation that’s out there, and they can’t get that so long as the media has their lips glued to Obama’s dick.

      1. Ryan’s Medicare reform was cowardly, absurd, and amounted to nothing but kicking the can down the road.

        1. It put a cap on payments. That’s absolutely what has to happen, but your boys blocked it.

          1. It did do that – in 2024.

            Not impressed.

            1. I am. It was a bold, extremist plan, apparently.

              1. hell they believe any plan to balance the budget in the next 10-50 years being utterly extreme….i fish i could just go without balancing my budget for 10-50 years -_-

        2. Stipulated: Ryan’s plan was weak tea.

          What superior alternative were the Democrats offering?

          Oh, that’s right: fuck-all. They just demagogued the issue.

          Keep squat-fucking that Nancy Pelosi bobblehead, Shriek.

      2. which is the only major problem

        Fail. It’s the biggest problem from a budget perspective. But health care costs(*) are an overall problem in this economy. And a problem largely created by Congress in their effort to both obfuscate the cost and give shit away via unfunded mandates.

        (*) Some might argue that pre-existing conditions is as big an issue. I beg to differ, but now due to Obamacare, it’s got a seat at the head table.

      3. they need an educational campaign to combat all the misinformation that’s out there

        They should have made a video of grandma pushing kids of the cliff and then having her walk into a government suicide booth.

    4. Whaddaya mean they didn’t have an alternative? What do you think Romneycare was?

      1. Right on. You have just illustrated the paucity of GOP “ideas”.

        1. The paucity of GOP ideas? You are aware that the Dems basically ripped off Romneycare to make Obamacare, right?

          1. Yes.

            So you admit the GOP is jettisoning the few ideas they did have because the scary black guy is adopting them?

            1. No. I don’t know their minds. It’s an idiotic idea wherever it came from.

    5. They dont need an alternative.

      What we had before, as sucky and socialistic as it was, was still better than Obamacare.

      1. I don’t agree. Obamacare exists not because of an ideological drive to have an NHS system in the US, but because of a health care system with uncontained costs and an increasing disparity between have/have-nots. Ignoring the social side of the equation is simply not palatable politically.

        1. That is exactly right. There is something sick about some guy stacking cans with no health insurance paying taxes so that old people can get unlimited medical benefits.

          1. The only people that can’t get health insurance are either A) not legal Americans, or B) don’t want it. I get your point, but I refuse to play into the whole “OMG the poor people can’t get healthcare” BS and so should you.

        2. Any yet, Obamacare is going to make the uncontained costs worse.

          The obvious alternative is a pure free market health care system. But measured against ACA, the previous “system”, as horrible as it was, was much better.

          Under the previous system, I could get a dirt-cheap, hi-deductible HSA plan.

          Better than the new crap.

          1. Better than the new crap.

            Undeniable. But now politically irrelevant. The GOP solution can’t simply be rollback. Because that makes it clear that they are a party with no solutions. And that’s worse, at least from an image perspective, than being a party with bad solutions.

            1. True. Their lack of proactivity and tendency to ‘turtle’ is a large part of why we’re here.

    6. The republicans’ biggest problem on the health care issue is that they haven’t come up with an alternative.

      What is a good alternative to bullshit? Horseshit? Polished bullshit?

      They’ll never get rid of Obamacare until they come up with an alternative, and the pre-Obamacare status quo is not an acceptable alternative.

      And that, lady and germs, is how you write a circular argument.

      1. So vote for socialized medicine? I don’t think a libertarian healthcare system would have many votes or poll very well. So that leaves…

        1. And what does a “libertarian healthcare system” look like?

          No wait, I know this one…SOMALIA.

  4. Perhaps, in your view. But actually a much better alternative.

  5. Mr McArdle joins Nick Gillespie and Radley Balko in denouncing Republican Obstructionism.

    There’s a word for that…

    1. Buggery?

    2. cosmotarianism?

  6. The article’s first sentence kinda works too if you read “defunders” as “defenders,” like I did at first.

  7. please. just because the House controls the purse strings and Congresses can’t bind bind future Congresses doesn’t mean this Congress can not fund what Nancy Pelosi’s Congress did.

  8. So the plan to defund Obamacare isn’t a plan to defund Obamacare. It’s a plan to talk about defunding Obamacare.

    you are confusing stratagy with tactics.

    A plan to defund Obamacare necessitates that republicans get more seats in the senate.

    So the tactic of talking about defunding Obamacare will fulfill the strategy of getting more seats which they need to fulfill the plan of defunding Obamacare.

    See how that works?

    Never mind you do see how that works and only wrote the above quote as some failed attempt at putting a hook on the story.

  9. I dont understand why the House needs the Senate to take up the bill.

    The House can defund anything it wants all by itself.

    Nothing gets funded unless both agree.

    1. Yep.

      But that part confuses Suderman to no end.

    2. Because a CR is all-or-nothing.

      A YEA on the CR funds government and a NAY funds nothing at all.

      1. pass smaller spending bills then. duh.

  10. You could easily write this article about libertarianism. We don’t have the votes and our policies are wildly unpopular.

    1. Our ideas are the awkward nerdy girl who stands in the corner at parties. Once the popular girls give her a makeover and bring out her inner beauty, she’ll be on her knees blowing the captain of the football team before you know it.

      1. Why does the awkward nerd need a GENDER, Akston? Check yer privilege, paternalodyte.

    2. Yeah that’s true. I guess Ann Coulter was right libertarians are pussies.

    3. Wuddya mean “could”, I’m pretty sure he just did.

  11. Rand Paul’s plan that he explained in a WSJ interview was to have the House pass a version sans Obamacare. It goes to the Senate, which adds it back in. Then the bill goes to a committee and a compromise is reached. In other words, it’s pretty much School House Rock.

    For goodness sake, the GOP was able to force a compromise on spending back in 2011. They have 46 Senate seats now. Go after the waivers, or force the individual mandate to be pushed back to 2016.

  12. They need dialog with the more nuanced beltway thinkers who understand that to cut spending, you have to vote for more of it every year, and to assert the power of the purse, you have to vote for things you find immoral and unconstitutional.

  13. These sorts of articles annoy me. If the Paul Ryan budget plan is considered too radical and unpopular to pass I don’t see much chance of anything remotely libertarian being passed by Congress or polling well.

  14. Pollster: Would you be for or against shutting down the government-

    Me: For!

    Pollster: -in order to defund Obamacare?

    Me: Oh. That’s fine too.

  15. What the Republicans should be doing is making this a teachable moment about how completely and totally fucked up budgeting by Continuing Resolution is.

    Like this:

    Republicans pass CR that funds everything but Obamacare. Democrats whine “Republicans want to shut down X, Y, and Z just because they hate Obamacare!” Republicans pass four more bills, one funding X, one funding Y, one funding Z, and another CR funding everything but X, Y, Z, and Obamacare. Taunt Democrats saying “We passed 3 bills that fund X, Y, and Z, pass them or STFU.” Lather, rinse, repeat until Democrats run out of things to whine about.

  16. lol, US POlitics, Best politics money can buy lol.


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