Al Hunt's conducted a new interview with Grover Norquist, who now says an immigration bill will pass "in the next nine to 12 months" when the hope had been to pass it in October. With that can kicked down the road, the more immediate Norquistism has to do with the coming debt limit fight. Asked whether the GOP should force a fight to get some concessions, Norquist says either the CR or the debt limit will do. From the early transcript:
Well, of course, some people have said that we should insist that the president sign the abolition defunding of Obamacare. I think he'd rather give you his liver than do that. So I don't think that's an option… [The administration has] been delaying whole sections of it again and again and again for particular friends. I think that it's going to be increasingly difficult for the White House to say we've delayed it for our big business friends, for our insurance friends, for our labor union friends… I don't think it would be a complete capitulation. At the end of the day [the President will cave] because he's had to delay so much of it. It wouldn't be a complete embarrassment to say, ‘We're going to let everybody have a year delay’.
What Norquist could say is that the House has already passed a delay of Obamacare implementation, and proved that some scared Democrats might be on board with it! In July, when I think we were distracted by Anthony Weiner, the House voted to delay both the individual mandate and the employer mandate for companies employing more than 50 people. The "Fairness for American Families" Act, or FAFA (no one called it FAFA, actually), won 251 votes, all from Democrats in swing or conservative districts, or from Michigan Rep. Gary Peters, who's running for U.S. Senate. (Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley, also running for Senate, voted "nay.")
Republicans are coalescing around this gambit. This weekend the House Republican address will focus on the mandate delay. (The text is embargoed until 6 a.m. for some reason. Sorry.) They don't specifically say that the debt limit should be the vehicle for getting this, but we can make that assumption. Why? Because the CBO's already said that delaying the mandate for a year, as long as subsidies were also delayed, would actually cut the defiict.
Sure, yes, the CBO also said this.
CBO and JCT expect that, during the period of delayed phase-in of the penalty for failing to comply with the mandate, health insurance premiums for individually purchased coverage would be higher under H.R. 2668 than they are projected to be under current law. In addition, the number of people with health insurance coverage would be reduced relative to current law.
But Republicans haven't hesitated to vote for plans that would roll back health insurance coverage.
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