The GOP Plot to Defund Obamacare and Why It's Doomed

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 30 2013 10:50 AM

The GOP Plot to Defund Obamacare and Why It's Doomed

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Grand bargainer Alan Simpson

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

My new piece begins with an interview with Alan Simpson, who's still hacking away at Congress to get it to pass a grand bargain. It continues with his latest impediment: a conservative push to defund Obamacare implementation in the must-pass Sept. 30-deadlined continuing resolution.

One thing I'd add in this space is that the House version of the letter, while tethered to the Senate letter for PR purposes, isn't entirely as definitive. Republicans signing the House letter agree that "it is imperative, now more than ever, that Congress do everything in its power to halt the implementation of the healthcare law."

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Another thing: Activists on the right have zero patience for Republicans who argue that this can't be done. FreedomWorks' Dean Clancy has the latest riposte, to Karl Rove.

What the "Don't Fund It" coalition (led by Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and others) is proposing is that all ObamaCare funding—including autopilot spending—be cut off by means of a legislative "rider" containing specific prohibitory language forbidding any Obamacare funding from occurring. This rider would be attached to the CR, widely regarded as a "must-pass" measure.

A contrarian might look at the letter and say, "Hey, this puts the GOP in an even better negotiating position when it comes down to the bill itself." But as I found in the piece, the White House has seen off this gambit before by laughing out loud.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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