The Unicorn Theory of Defunding Obamacare


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) coauthored the letter that kicked off the defund Obamacare movement. And he's been the most outspoken congressional proponent of the strategy. But he's never actually promised it would work. "If ordinary Washington rules apply," he said in August, "we can't win this fight." For an Obamacare defunding play to succeed, "the American people" would have to "rise up," and (presumably) something, something, hope for a unicorn.

credit: EYECCD / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

So it wasn't exactly a big revelation when Cruz said last night that the new plan by House Republicans to pass a continuing resolution that didn't fund Obamacare would go nowhere in the Senate. "[Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so," Cruz said. Once that happens, "House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people." Maybe that's when they'll get around to rising up?

But Cruz's admission that the votes weren't there drove some House Republicans nuts anyway. "We haven't even taken up the bill and Ted Cruz is admitting defeat?" a senior GOP aide complained to The Huffington Post.

The frustration is understandable. Cruz has spent the last month bashing House Republicans for their timidity in declining to make a strong push to defund Obamacare. But the minute Speaker John Boehner agreed to do so, Cruz deflated the entire effort by saying that it wouldn't work.

Cruz tried to tiptoe back a step or two today, saying he'd do whatever it takes to stop the law. "I will do everything necessary and anything possible to defund Obamacare," he told NBC. It was a vow, but not a plan. If Cruz had a plausible strategy to flip the Democratic votes necessary to pass a defund measure in the Senate, we'd have seen it by now.

Of course, it's hard to backpedal too much given that Cruz's assessment of Harry Reid's likely response is correct. The flaws in the defund plan have been obvious from the outset. Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate Democratic majority were never going to allow an Obamacare defunding bill to pass in the upper chamber. And even if by some miracle they did, there's still the White House to contend with. Even without the explicit veto threats, there's never been any good reason to think President Obama would sign on to a bill to defund the health care law.

The question is what happens after the Senate sends an Obamacare-funding CR back to the House. Maybe House Republicans collectively refuse to pass the plan, and proceed with a government shutdown (although public antipathy towards that possibility suggests it may not count as listening to the American people). Maybe House Speaker John Boehner allows a vote on a Senate-edited funding measure, and it passes with help from a bunch of House Democrats. No matter what, it's hard to see how any of this actually results in the defunding of Obamacare, at least not until the unicorn arrives.

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  1. If I can believe in Episiarch, I can believe in Unicorns.

    1. Hey, why not? Let’s believe in a Vulcan named Steve. Nanu-nanu.

    2. Epsiarch is just a bedtime story parents use to scare misbehaving children into being good.

      1. I thought that was Warty.

        1. No, Warty is to scare misbehaving children into catatonia.

          1. I don’t think being scared into catatonia at the mention of Wary is limited to misbehaving children. Behaving children, adults, teenagers, they all get scared into catatonia at the mention of Warty.

    3. I believe, therefore I am. Wait…or is it you believe, therefore I am?

      I believe I’m confused now.

  2. It’s actually a fair point. Reagan, for instance, basically said fuck you to Congress and went to the people. And it worked. If the Democrats really get convinced that they’ll lose big because of the law, they will run in enough numbers to end this. But these are people who dodge reality all the time, so that convincing will take more than some polls.

    1. Losing on gun control only stopped them for a while. They’re a forgetful bunch.

      Hell, they lost two of their own in Colorado, and yet Dianne Feinstein still walks the earth.

    2. It would be nice if some House reps or Senators pointed out the MASSIVE VIOLATIONS of medical privacy that would occur under Obamacare. That might actually wake some people the fuck up.

    3. But when Reagan shut down the gov’t in his 2nd term, the media-stoked people backed Congress.

  3. Peter Suderman,”libertarian” voice of the RINO Establishment.

  4. So is Suderman leaving for HuffPo?

  5. Are you really this dense/obtuse Sude? Yeah, Cruz said the bill wouldn’t pass, which isn’t the same as ‘failing’ per se. Failure implies that nothing good was accomplished. Passage of a real anti-OC bill is necessary for both justifing the GOP’s existence and in keeping the anti-OC movement virile. It is good simply because it is the right thing to do.

    The real unicorn believer is you Suder. Your unicorn is some ‘grand master plan’ hatched by Cato’s Top Men. Sorry, we’re going to have so slog through this fight while you’re busy vindicating Ann Coulter’s ‘libertarian pussy’ caricature.

    1. I’m pretty sure if Krugman/Brooks/any other Reason punching bag wrote this exact same article then Reason and the commenters would be tearing them apart.

      1. You know you retards need to stop taking Suderman’s factual statements about the current state of the OCare Repeal as endorsements of thereof.

        Learn to fucking read, for fuck’s sake.

        1. I didn’t. Stop whining.

        2. Learn to fucking read, for fuck’s sake.

          No you need to learn to read.


          See Amash is pushing for a vote that had no chance of passing and Reason is positive about it. Any factual statements about the current state of NSA repeal would be treated as an endorsement.

        3. There’s clearly an editorial slant to Suderman’s crusade.

          Objectively, Cruz has stated his belief that the bill will not pass, but that it is beneficial for other reasons. Suderman has consistently downplayed these benefits and characterized those in favor of Cruz’s strategy as similar to unicorn believers.

          If that’s objective reporting, so is everything reported by MSM rags.

          1. To give him a little credit, this particular installment in the “Suderman hates the Don Quixote teabaggers” series does seem like less of a Cosmo concern troll than the previous ones.

    2. Passage of a real anti-OC bill is necessary for both justifing the GOP’s existence and in keeping the anti-OC movement virile.

      Is this supposed to be serious or sarcastic? I can’t tell.

      1. Are you an intentional shitposter or just that stupid? I can’t tell.

        1. Why can’t it be both?

    3. Agree with Cytotoxic

      The real Unicorn Plans is “Keep voting for stuff you know is bad policy, immoral, and unconstitutional and eventually it will go away. You know, like all those bad government programs we got rid of”.

  6. I don’t see how anything can be done until after 2014 and the elections. If Obamacare proves to be an unworkable, unpopular mess it should be easier to flip vulnerable Democrats, especially with a lame-duck president.

  7. The job of the House of Representatives is to represent the people. The people want to balance the budget this year, cut government spending, keep the debt ceiling where it is, and don’t like ObamaCare. So pass a bill reflecting that.

    If the Senate in their wisdom disagrees with the House, then let them vote it down and take it to a conference committee. Stop trying to predict what might happen.

    1. I find these articles rather aggravating. It’s not like Reason ever condemned the Pauls or Amash or whoever for promoting legislation that had no chance of passing and worrying about how that would effect their reelection chances.

      1. I don’t see any condemnation here, either.

        The difference between the Paul/Amash thing and the GOP thing is that the former understood they held little hope. The GOP doesn’t understand that yet.

        That said, I support anything that brings on a government shutdown. Preferably one that’s permanent.

        1. The GOP doesn’t understand that yet.

          Cruz is quoted as saying otherwise.

          I don’t see any condemnation here, either.

          No that would be to direct for Suder who’d rather sandbag any actual effort to defund OC with lousy criticism of strategy.

        2. Care to point to a Paul/Amash article where they called their efforts a fantasy or said the effort was pointless because the Senate would oppose it and Obama would veto it?

  8. Also I don’t think Deckard was a Replicant. The unicorn is a red herring, it’s a motif found throughout the movie that doesn’t necessarily mean that Deckard is not human.

    1. Hasn’t Ridley Scott confirmed that he considered Decker to be a replicant?

      Who cares one way or the other, regardless? Having it be unknown is actually more interesting.

      1. Yes he did, and that’s the real reason his brother committed suicide.

        1. Tony Scott was a replicant?!?

          1. I feel really bad for laughing at this.

            1. See, those implanted memories really do work.

      2. Frankly, what Scott says about the film now is irrelevant, as he lost most of his mojo a long time ago. Remember, Lucas decided that Han shot second decades after the fact. No way he thought that when he made Star Wars. It’s very obvious Scott wanted it to be unclear when the film first came out. Any definiteness now is just revisionism.

        I just read for the first time the Conrad novella that Scott’s The Duellists was based on. Love that Conrad.

        1. Well, there’s also the fact that I’ve personally (in the same room) heard Ridley say in response to a question about Blade Runner: “I don’t really see why you’re so fascinated by that movie” or something to that effect. Granted, it was in response to the fact that no questions other than about Gladiator were supposed to be asked, but it probably indicates he doesn’t care much one way or the other.

          1. It’s like Rutger Hauer is the only one in the film who really likes it.

            1. It’s a fucking good movie. Don’t get all of the hate.

              1. I second this sentiment.

          2. It’s really hard being someone creative, living down past achievements. I doubt anyone here will seriously argue that Scott is producing the quality of work now that he did in the late 70s/early 80s. So it’s no wonder he doesn’t want to accept that his earlier stuff blows away anything he does now.

            Gladiator was okay, but I thought it got out of hand and dragged. Miss Oliver Reed, though.

            1. I watched the long-ass documentary about making that film, Scott really, really had to fight to get it made and made mostly along his lines. I don’t think older directors have that sort of stamina and drive.

            2. Pretty much every director’s quality goes down over time. I think his indifference to the movie comes more from how hard so many people dorked out on it (like, uh, you) and probably became his equivalent of Star Trek fans at a convention. I can see that being extremely annoying.

              Also, Ridley’s always been hit or miss, though generally with an undercurrent of talent and competence even if the film is a miss. You go from stuff like Alien or The Duellists to shit like Hannibal or Robin Hood, and in between are plenty of entertaining or just plain good films like White Squall or Gladiator.

              1. I’m seriously amazed he was able to make a big budget film again after 1492. That could’ve easily been a career killer.

              2. I agree, though I think he was much better earlier.

                I’m not dorked out on the film. I think it’s probably his best, all told, though I’m not sure I even think that. Alien was great.

            3. I like Gladiator a lot. I thought it was very powerful and moving and spoke to America’s decline in republican values.

      3. Who cares what Ridley Scott thinks? The author was Philip Dick.

    2. Oh let me guess, you preferred the theatrical version also, right?

      You people disgust me!

      1. I like the movie better than the book if I have to pick (this is one of the very few times I hold this position), but they’re so far apart that it’s really hard to compare. I mean, how much of the book is in the movie, anyway?

        1. Oh, duh, I see what you meant. I actually like the narration, but that’s because I’m a film noir fan.

          1. But it was bad narration, very turgid. Ford didn’t sound world-weary, he sounded bored.

            1. Worked for me, so I don’t care what you think. [Runs from room, sobbing.]

            2. Funny, I’ve only seen the director’s cut and I can’t imagine the film with some stupid narration thrown into it. No thanks.

          2. I do too, maybe because I saw it in the theater and was pretty blown away. Didn’t see it again for many years.

            1. I’ll admit my affection for the original is probably based on the fact that that’s what I saw first.

              1. I was also surprised, shuffling out of the theater, hearing so many people complain about what a bad film it was. I think it was mostly girls expecting to see a hunky Harrison Ford do something Indiana Jonesy.

      2. The director’s cut is a better film, but that doesn’t mean making Deckard a replicant is a smart narrative move. It throws off the theme of man vs machine.

        1. I’m actually agnostic on it.

        2. Why would Deckard be a replicant!?!?! I feel totally out of the loop here.

          1. Those dreams of a unicorn, implanted memories that what’s-his-face seems to know about. Or just google ‘was deckard a replicant’.

  9. …there’s never been any good reason to think President Obama would sign on to a bill to defund the health care law.

    You mean I might see one evening NBC News reporting that President Obama shut down the government?

    1. Seems like we can pin it all on Reid and Obama’s obstructionist tendencies.

  10. Suderman knows a lot about unicorns, given that he and his wife have the Obama Unicorn painting hanging in their D.C. home.

  11. Republicans will fund Obamacare. They will say it’s because they don’t want to get blamed for shutting down the government, but the real reason is, they like Obamacare just fine.

    (Of course many of them will vote against it, but that’s posturing. They will make sure it’s going to pass first.)

  12. why are democrats and their supporters in the media so afraid of democrats having to vote for this wonderful piece of legislation called Obamacare? it’s like 2010 all over again.

  13. I would take the Republicans seriously if they would put forth an alternative healthcare reform plan, so that we all would have an idea what they want to do instead of Obamacare.

    1. you are lying, but there might be others out there who actually think that. i’ve not talked to any, but that’s not proof.

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