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Republicans, Over the Cliff

Peter Suderman speaks for me: [1]

What Republicans have right now is a lot of talk. What they don’t have is a workable legislative strategy. Not on Obamacare. Not on the debt. Not on tax reform, the unsustainable entitlement state, or on any of the big domestic policy issues that Republicans say they care about, or that actually confront the nation today.

Part of coming up with a plausible strategy is going to be recognizing that right now, the GOP is the minority party in Congress, and that there are limits to what it can meaningfully accomplish until that changes.

They are a barking-mad pack of ideologues, is what they are. I haven’t written much about the Obamacare thing because I don’t follow policy closely. As far as I know, Obamacare is a bad idea. But here’s the thing: it’s the law. It was passed, signed by the president, and upheld in the Supreme Court. There is no way the House Republicans, or Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, is going to overturn it. The best they can do is to delay it. And then what? Guess what: the 2012 elections were their last, best chance to overturn Obamacare, and the country didn’t go for it.

There are other battles to fight. These guys are taking the government and the economy to the brink of crisis, and for what? For the sake of rebel yells and the Lost Cause? Larison: [2]

This approach places great value on zeal and combativeness and isn’t very concerned with success. For that reason, it won’t produce the desired results at an acceptable political price. Cruz has railed against Republican defeatism, but in practice Cruz has made himself the leader of what one might call the defeat caucus.

Here’s Josh Marshall [3], making a good point:

Right now you might theorize that ‘Obamacare’ has somehow become such an idee fixe on the American right that some sort of cataclysmic confrontation is inevitable. But that theory doesn’t really hold up because for the previous two years it was austerity and dramatic fiscal retrenchment that merited threatening to default on the federal debt to deal with.


For all the ubiquity of political polarizing and heightened partisanship, no honest observer can deny that the rise of crisis governance and various forms of legislative hostage taking comes entirely from the GOP. I hesitate to state it so baldly because inevitably it cuts off the discussion with at least a sizable minority of the political nation. But there’s no way to grapple with the issue without being clear on this single underlying reality. Sufficient evidence of this comes from 2007 and 2008 when Democrats won resounding majorities in Congress and adopted exactly none of these tactics with an already quite unpopular President Bush. This is the reality that finally brought Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, two of DC’s most arbiters of political standards and practices, fastidiously sober, even-handed and high-minded, to finally just throw up their hands mid-last-year and say “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem [4].”


It has become so pervasive that I believe it’s lost on many of us just how far down the road of state breakdown and decay we’ve already gone. It is starting to seem normal what is not normal at all.

That’s it, I think. When I think of the Republican Party, I don’t think of principled conservative legislators who are men and women of vision strategy. I think of ideologues who are prepared to wreck things to get their way. They have confused prudence — the queen of virtues, and the cardinal virtue of conservative politics — with weakness. I know I’m very much a minority among conservatives in this, but the behavior of Congressional Republicans pushed me out of the party two years ago, even though I almost always vote Republican, or withhold my vote. I am not a liberal, and do not want to vote for liberals, especially on social policy. But I told a Louisiana conservative friend the other day that the Congressional Republicans are making me consider the previously unthinkable: throwing my vote away by voting for a Democrat in the special election next month to replace my GOP congressman, who just resigned to take another job. The GOP candidates in this local race are hot and heavy to overthrow Obamacare. I think about how poor this district is — 26 percent of the district lives in poverty [5], making it one of the poorest Congressional districts in America — and how badly we need jobs and economic growth, and I think: What kind of world do these people live in? 

By the way, political analysts rate the Louisiana 5th district safe Republican; my frustration with the GOP candidates is almost certainly a marginal phenomenon. You could probably put all the conservatives in this district who are fed-up with this mess on my front porch, and still have room for the tuba players from the LSU Tiger Band. Still, there it is. I’m considering voting Democratic not because I believe in the Democrats, but because it has gotten to the point where they don’t unnerve me like the Republicans. As poor as our district is, these guys would make our economic situation even more parlous by shutting the government down to overturn what in any stable political environment would have been a settled law?

Consider one of Russell Kirk’s ten canons of conservative thought [6]:

Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence. Burke agrees with Plato that in the statesman, prudence is chief among virtues. Any public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity. Liberals and radicals, the conservative says, are imprudent: for they dash at their objectives without giving much heed to the risk of new abuses worse than the evils they hope to sweep away. As John Randolph of Roanoke put it, Providence moves slowly, but the devil always hurries. Human society being complex, remedies cannot be simple if they are to be efficacious. The conservative declares that he acts only after sufficient reflection, having weighed the consequences. Sudden and slashing reforms are as perilous as sudden and slashing surgery.

What are the probable long-run consequences of shutting the US Government down over Obamacare? Do the Congressional Republicans care? Do they care what kind of damage they are doing to the ability of Congress to legislate effectively on all kinds of matters? The damage they are doing to the economic stability of the United States? This kind of brinksmanship might — might — have been defensible during the Obamacare fight, but today? I can’t see it. I can’t see any good coming out of this, at least any good that stands to outweigh the bad.

I regret to say how much it disappoints me to see Sen. Rand Paul being so near the center of this drama. At TAC, we don’t have editorial meetings and decide who our political BFFs are, but it will be obvious even to a casual reader that Rand Paul’s ideas find favor among our writers, in large part because of his leadership on foreign policy and civil liberties. I don’t know what my colleagues think of his part in the Obamacare defunding debacle, but I’ve watched it with dismay, not because I’m a particular fan of Obamacare, but because it seems like such a pointless, wasting cause. I’ve been thrilled by Sen. Paul’s leadership on foreign policy, so it’s especially disappointing to watch him waste so much capital on this lost cause.

Then again, as Ross Douthat wrote in a great column [7] a couple of weeks ago:

Here’s the good news for Republicans: The party now has a faction committed to learning real lessons from the 2012 defeat, breaking with the right’s stale policy consensus and embracing new ideas on a range of issues, from foreign policy to middle-class taxes, the drug war to banking reform.

Here’s the bad news for Republicans: The party also has a faction committed to a reckless, pointless budget brinkmanship, which creates a perpetual cycle of outrage and disillusionment among conservatives and leaves Washington lurching from one manufactured crisis to the next.

Here’s the strange news for Republicans: These two factions are actually one and the same.

Douthat says Rand Paul is the politician to watch because he seems to get that in order to move the party in new and useful directions, you have to be able to talk to the base. In that sense, his having Ted Cruz’s back on the anti-Obamacare crusade could be strategically wise. Cruz is catching all the heat on the Senate side, while Paul is avoiding the spotlight, while shoring up his credentials with the base.

Maybe that’s what’s going on. I’ll try to be hopeful. Still, there’s no doubt in my mind who is responsible for the government shutting down: the GOP. I’m with John Avlon: [8]

Divided government used to work—it created the Marshall Plan, civil rights legislation, and all the accomplishments of the Reagan era. Independent voters like me have traditionally voted for divided government in the hopes that it would restrain any one party’s impulse to ideologically over-reach by imposing common sense checks and balances.  But divided government now looks like dysfunctional government.  And despite the political security created by the rigged system of redistricting, Republicans may suddenly find the congressional midterms a referendum on their ability to get things done.  The scorecard is ugly on that front, providing yet another reason for Democrats to accept a government shutdown, however painful.

There is the sense that maybe the stark stupidity of this conflict will break the hyper-partisan fever consuming our nation’s capital.  Republicans are realizing that the angry conservative populist forces they empowered to achieve power have turned on them and are now actively restricting their ability to be taken seriously as a governing force.  When President Obama sees negotiating with Iran as a more reasonable option than negotiating with Republicans over the debt ceiling, we are through the looking glass.

… It is pathetic that is has come to this: a great power that cannot agree on practical ways to keep its government functioning.

Right. The Republicans cannot govern. These people aren’t conservatives. They are radicals. What on earth would Russell Kirk say if he were alive to see this?


247 Comments (Open | Close)

247 Comments To "Republicans, Over the Cliff"

#1 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 2, 2013 @ 8:24 am

“These guys are taking the government and the economy to the brink of crisis, and for what?”

If that is the case that the economy is so dependent on government spending —- then itmay be a sign that the economy is resting on the shoulders of the tax payer —-

Not a healthy sign of economic health.

#2 Comment By smitty On October 2, 2013 @ 11:16 am

“But here’s the thing: it’s the law.”

What a pitiful, cowering, submissive comment.

The owning of people, known as slavery, was once “the law” too.

Hitler and Stalin worked within what was “the law”.

Bleating like sheep “it’s the law” when it is often clearly a violation of individual Liberty, as ‘Obamacare’ obviously is, is not the mark of a people holding Liberty as a precious thing.

#3 Comment By Richard Parker On October 2, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

I have some sympathy for the House Republicans on this issue, but last night I polled the History: US Constitution class I am teaching undergrads.

The score 0-8 against the Republicans. If you are under 30 the Republican name is mud.

#4 Comment By Franklin Evans On October 2, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

Gee, smitty, do please share with us the wisdom you’ve used to come to those startling conclusions. I’m fascinated by the comparison between ACA and slavery.

“It sometimes takes a genius to see out the obvious.” I’m thrilled to be in the presence of genius.

#5 Comment By KXB On October 2, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

Comparing a law which allows 30 million+ Americans access to a private insurance marketplace is that same as a law as slavery, Stalin, & Hitler. Those random word generators are becoming more impressive everyday.

#6 Comment By Another Matt On October 2, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

I don’t think that the GOP is demanding that it be allowed to rule on all points. It is willing to compromise, indeed, it already has with the one-year delay. So your comparison is not apt.

Sorry, no — a one-year delay would be a unilateral concession for the Dems because the law has already passed.

Maybe what Obama and the Dems should do is “name their price” for each thing the GOP is demanding. For instance, maybe a year of delay for ACA would be worth a 3-5% tax rate increase for the two highest brackets — that’s what a real compromise would look like. But they know that the debt ceiling is not something to play hardball with. For some reason the GOP thinks of the debt ceiling as their leverage, even though they agree that it has to be raised.

The best thing would be to repeal the debt ceiling completely and then have it out on the budget.

#7 Comment By balconesfault On October 2, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

@Another Matt You’re echoing what I’m thinking. People do not understand the difference between negotiations, and hostage taking.

In a negotiation, you offer up something you don’t want to surrender, in exchange for the other party giving up something they don’t want to surrender.

In this case, the GOP is asking the Dems to give up implementation of Obamacare this year, in exchange for keeping the Government open. For this to be a “negotiation”, the implication would be that the Republicans preferred outcome is shutting down the government, and it will only be through the Spirit of Compromise that they continue to fund the government.

Let’s assume that the GOP doesn’t really want to shut down the government. That becomes like a hostage taker declaring “I really don’t want to kill these good people, but if you don’t give me my way, I’ll have to do it!” There is nothing being offered up by the GOP here, except that they won’t screw up life for everyone (including themselves) if the Democrats capitulate.

#8 Comment By smitty On October 2, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

The ACA law FORCES individuals to make a purchase in the marketplace that they may wish not to.

Not a lot different than being forced to labor without pay.

As for where my ideas about law and Liberty are derived:

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.
-Thomas Jefferson

The ACA is merely a means to transfer cash from the young (the group least in need of health insurance)to the bottom line of private insurers.

Obama is a tool of the 1% as all ‘modern’ presidents have been. The difference between them and Stalin and Hitler (both of whom were subsidized and/or supplied by the American 1% of their era) is merely a matter of degree…degree that continues to be minimized over time.

[NFR: Stalin? Hitler? You forgot Caligula, and Tom Snyder. — RD]

#9 Comment By JonF On October 2, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

Smitty, assuming you are not a tongue-in-cheek liberal above, to compare the ACA to slavery– or the Nazis!– is so howlingly absurd that children should point and laugh at you when you go by in the street.
And what “liberty” are you talking about? The liberty to be refused health insurance due to reasons beyond your control? To go bankrupt from overwhelming medicare bills? To watch a loved one die prematurely because you could not afford the care they needed? That kind of “freedom” belongs right up there with “Arbeit macht frei” (Hey, you started the Nazi stuff). At least the gates of Dante’s hell are honest in their signage.

#10 Comment By Annek On October 2, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

Richard Parker:

“…last night I polled the History: US Constitution class I am teaching undergrads.

“The score 0-8 against the Republicans. If you are under 30 the Republican name is mud.”

When I was in college everyone made fun of Reagan – students and faculty alike. Now, it seems, many people, including some Democrats, have a reasonably high regard for him.

I don’t put that much stock in what college students think, except for how it might portend for the future.

#11 Comment By Annek On October 3, 2013 @ 12:26 am


“The ACA is merely a means to transfer cash from the young (the group least in need of health insurance)to the bottom line of private insurers.”

I know everyone says that the young are going to pay for ACA, but it seems to me that those people who currently have pretty good health insurance will see their costs go up and the quality of what they receive will likely go down. So, I’m not sure the young are the only ones who are going to be paying for this. Plus, Balconesfault (someone who posts here) keeps saying that according to the Kaiser calculators young people actually will not be paying very much.

Anyone know the truth?

#12 Comment By JonF On October 3, 2013 @ 6:08 am

Hey, 200+ comments and nary a word about gay marriage! We’re getting better, folks.

#13 Comment By JonF On October 3, 2013 @ 6:12 am


The ACA will transfer money, but not from the young to the old. The premiums of the young will be heavily subsidized (to the extent they are not high income– and very few young people are). Those subsidies ultimately come from the well-to-do.
You can cry Socialism all you want, but it’s the only way the system can work, period. It’s also true we have similar “socialism” when it comes to funding the military, the education system, our highways, the courts etc. It’s how life works. Take it up with a Higher Authority if you don’t like it,

#14 Comment By JonF On October 3, 2013 @ 6:14 am

And Smittym

There are already umpteen government laws forcing us to make purchases. Anti-nudity laws force us to buy clothes. Public sanitation laws force us to have properly functioning bathrooms. We are enjoined to vaccinate our children and our pets. And so forth. Nothing new under the sun here.

#15 Comment By Franklin Evans On October 3, 2013 @ 10:12 am

Okay, smitty, you got my better attention with your Jefferson citation. The thing is, …within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others… is completely missing from your personal statements and is contradicted by some of them.

Find better metaphors and comparisons. Your feet have several holes in them.

#16 Comment By Victor3 On October 3, 2013 @ 10:33 am

The Republican party is having an identity crisis, one both severe and irrational enough that punching themselves in the face with the American people seems to be all they are capable of. They are so bloodied by this ideological self immolation that they are oblivious to the fact that all of the impacts are hurting their constituents as least as badly as they are hurting themselves. Among those who retain a modicum of sanity, fear of further abuse, of losing their jobs (even though, unlike their constituents they have platinum health care for life and fat pensions) and more important, fear of being removed from the influence they have as courtiers in the decadent DC echo chamber is sufficient to create a pseudo Stockholm syndrome within them all. Thus we arrive at the hostage situation we see today where it’s obviously not just the democrats and the nation being held against their will and better judgement. It’s laughable that so many republicans are now at least as spineless as their colleagues on the other side of the aisle. This is what happens when re-election depends not on serving your constituents but on raising campaign contributions from those pulling the puppets strings. Thanks for nothing Citizens United, please sir may we have another.

#17 Comment By Victor3 On October 3, 2013 @ 10:36 am

Annek, here’s the most cogent criticism of the ACA and the crypto capitulation of both parties I have yet seen, and it’s from the left. Unfortunately it may now be behind a pay wall. [9]

#18 Comment By Franklin Evans On October 3, 2013 @ 11:31 am

Anne, the valid attempt to answer your query involves a description and analysis of the actuarial assumptions and the past experience on which they are based. I can’t do an extensive search right away — at work, shouldn’t even be posting this 😉 — but if I find one that I can at least help you (and others) understand, I’ll post it.

Pared down to the basic mechanics, given that health care is controlled by the insurance model, the objections of smitty and others are rather easily — and very harshly — answered.

If you demand the right to refuse to pay the premiums, then every health care provider should have the right to refuse your requests for service beyond life-saving actions, and then bankrupt you for the rest of your life when you can’t pay even the emergency service fees.

It really is that simple. It really has the thinnest of protection from a medical profession that will, in fact, not deny services even if they know the patient has no money. That protection is thin because those professionals all have finite resources, and when they are exhausted no one will get services no matter how much money they have from an empty hospital and ER doors permanently locked.

#19 Comment By Fingal’s Cave On October 3, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

“What on earth would Russell Kirk say if he were alive to see this?”

He’d notice that the sun came up again this morning and that God was still in His heaven. He might also wrack his brains over the hysteria caused by a quasi government shutdown.

#20 Comment By Annek On October 3, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

Victor3, Thanks for your response and the link to the article, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to open it.

Franklin, Thanks for your response, but I didn’t entirely understand it. 🙁 I’ll try re-reading it, and see if I understand it any better!

#21 Comment By JohnG On October 3, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

I don’t know how you define the terms “conservative” and “liberal” but your ode to the wonderful socio-economic benefits of Obamacare makes me wonder what world you live in.

#22 Comment By Franklin Evans On October 3, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

Anne, I spent 14 years learning-by-doing actuarial science. 😀

Health insurance premiums are created by actuaries using statistical data according to established mathematical formulas. It gets confusing from there, so don’t bother trying to get it at this point. I don’t promise to be able to explain it to anyone, just to make the attempt. 😉

#23 Comment By Brad On October 4, 2013 @ 5:31 am

I agree with Rod… I don’t like the where the republicans are going in general either. I wish they would create laws based upon common sense and not ideology. That goes for any party out there.

It seems to me that while the Republicans were fighting a stupid fight before. I like the fact that they are fighting the 72% subsidy now. If your employed by a company it’s their choice to pay the subsidy. I am self employed and don’t get a subsidy from anyone. If any politician or government employee is so happy with this new ACA then they should be willing to pay the full price. I don’t want to pay for them.

I also don’t see my friends who are so happy with this canceling their policies to jump on the ACA train.

ACA is going to happen one way or another. If the rates are going to sky rocket like predicted then this whole thing will crash. We can’t afford to pay for this system.

It’s a shame that there were not other ideas brought to the table long ago. Obama would have been the hero if he would or could have brought all parties to the table, and came up with a plan that would really change things. But they all have their agendas and BS redirect they push. If we could just tax them for their false promises we would be ok. Not really… but 17 trillion is not acceptable under any administration. I don’t care who got us there just balance your f-ing budgets and fix this mess you created. That means we all have to compromise thought. The top 1% can’t pay for the 17 trillion. So we are going to have to cut something somewhere somehow. Nobody is going to like it and things are going to get tough for everyone. But this is what happens when you overspend and over promise.

#24 Comment By Reasonable On October 4, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

None of you ”get it.” One point is the fact that the ACA does nothing to make healthcare affordable simply because it does not address healthcare costs. I want MRI’s to not cost 2000 dollars. Let’s start with that, instead of implementing a mandated insurance industry that does nothing to regulate costs of healthcare.

#25 Comment By Brad On October 4, 2013 @ 6:02 pm


I agree… This program does nothing to fix any of the problems we are having as insurance buyers nor is it affecting the cost of health care in general. If you are not at poverty level the exchange is pretty much worthless. Premiums are too high for healthy, above poverty at any age. I am not sure who thinks this is the best solution. Seems to be the overall problem here with most laws.

#26 Comment By indyconservative On October 4, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

What I think gets forgotten is the political principle that what goes around, comes around. Next time there is a Republican president Democrats will be able to obstruct with brinksmanship, and Republicans will have no real answer because they created the problem through today’s tactics. If this had happened 30 years ago, I imagine that you would not have seen the fall of the Soviet Union, because a minority of Democrats wanted to and could have halted the growth of defense spending during the Reagan years. In short, this is not a fight about Obamacare, it’s really a fight about the principles over how we govern this country, and whether we allow the far right and far left to drive the agenda. I find it quite revealing that other agendas such as the Keystone pipeline keep making their way into this argument as well, even though they have nothing to do with Obamacare.

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 4, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

None of you ”get it.” One point is the fact that the ACA does nothing to make healthcare affordable simply because it does not address healthcare costs. I want MRI’s to not cost 2000 dollars. Let’s start with that, instead of implementing a mandated insurance industry that does nothing to regulate costs of healthcare.

You don’t “get it.” For a lot of us, the ACA makes health care available, and affordable, because if you don’t have a full time job with an employer who pays premiums, you have a choice between incredible inflated prices for individual policies, or paying the “customary and usual” fees that are really only a bargaining position from which to bargain down to the “negotiated” rates that make insurance companies feel they have cut costs.

You want MRI’s to not cost $2000? Good idea. Let’s work on that. Only, don’t tell me that in the meantime I should just do without any kind of insurance, and pray that I don’t have an accident or a heart attack.

But now we have to look at exactly what that $2000 goes for. Is it the real cost of production with rare materials that are arduous to mine and process? Or is $1500 of it profiteering on a quasi-monopoly. We have to have cold hard numbers to make a case. (Sorry for being fiscally conservative on you.)

#28 Comment By Annek On October 4, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

Thanks, Franklin!

#29 Comment By Travis Mason-Bushman On October 4, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

“One point is the fact that the ACA does nothing to make healthcare affordable simply because it does not address healthcare costs. I want MRI’s to not cost 2000 dollars.”

Well, no, that’s wrong. The ACA does address health care costs – by reducing the need for hidden taxes in health care costs.

Part of the reason why an MRI is billed at $2,000 is that hospitals have to make up for the cost of care for uninsured/underinsured patients that they are either legally mandated to care for, or choose to care for as part of their charity care missions. All that care has to be paid for somehow, so traditionally the way hospitals have done that is to inflate everyone else’s costs to make up the difference. It’s a hidden tax, it’s horribly inefficient and it helps break the ability to create cost transparency in medical care. But if hospitals don’t do it, they’ll go bankrupt.

If the percentage of patients without insurance decreases, the need for charity care will also decrease. In theory, this will allow for a reduction in hidden taxes and increased cost comparability between hospitals.

#30 Comment By DC Abattoir On October 4, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

“Next time there is a Republican president Democrats will be able to obstruct with brinksmanship, and Republicans will have no real answer because they created the problem through today’s tactics.”

Not really. Blackmailing the President into abandoning a cherished program or betraying a campaign promise is American politics in the grand tradition. 15 of the 17 odd government shutdowns in our history took place when the donkey party controlled the House, suggesting that they are long-time champeen shutdown tacticians, and making mush of their opportunistic pose as earnest practitioners of clean government protecting us all from a mob of rabid Tea Partiers.

#31 Comment By Karl Sandfort On October 4, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

I recently had an inpatient bill for $23,919. I had no insurance. When I sent the hospital two checks for $5,000 they called me and said to send one more check for $3,091 and we’ll be square. In other words, they knocked $10,828 off the bill because I paid cash. My point is, the private health insurance industry is responsible for inflating the cost of health care. All of the medical billing systems I have seen (I used to work in the industry on the I.T. side) are insanely complicated and irrational. I have no idea if and how the ACA is going to fix that. But to stubbornly cling to the right-wing dictum that private is always better than public seems like a mistake to me. The article is spot-on. Right now it looks like the GOP will fail to stop this train.

#32 Comment By John Gorentz On October 4, 2013 @ 11:37 pm

Republicans don’t need a strategy. They need to stop ObamaCare. If they don’t, there is no hope for what’s left of our civil institutions.

#33 Comment By Matt On October 4, 2013 @ 11:40 pm

Rod, you sound like the same “conservatives” who grew our government in enormous proportions during the Bush administration, rolled over on the original Obamacare vote, and selected Romney as a presidential candidate. (BTW saying that Romney wasn’t elected is proof of acceptance of Obamacare is laughable since most conservatives did not trust Romney to appeal something he put in place in MA).

The “law of the land” argument is extremely weak as it assumes somehow that laws can’t or don’t change which is simply not true.

It seems like you use social popularity to dictate what you believe which is why you’re considering making a switch to the other side of the aisle.

To say that the Republicans are the only ideologues is another skewed reality. It’s probably wrong to shut down the government, however, the democrats could be the “bigger man” so-to-speak and negotiate on something that is CLEARLY unpopular among the American people.

Delaying the individual mandate is something that could actually help the law and it’s implementation and it would make the law more fair and give us all time to consider the ramifications of failing health care exchanges and any technical “glitches.”

I’m an iOS developer by trade but I worked on enterprise web sites for years and the simple fact is that the underlying mainframes that run the IRS/HHS and others that are tied together to make the system work are failing.

They are not made to be connected to the Internet (have you ever noticed that you can’t get your IRS account information online). They were QAed for 4 weeks. To give you perspective we QA features in our financial for 4 weeks!! It’s insane that they have dragged the American people through the mud, come hell or high water, kicking and screaming, to this point with no regard to how it actually works or informing people of what it even means to have Obamacare (see $6k deductible on Bronze plans).

At the very least, let the people see what the law even means and they may decide they want Congress to make changes.

[NFR: Ah yes, I’m a Bush-loving, Romney-embracing RINO. This is news to me. You guys really need to get out of this binary mindset. — RD]

#34 Comment By Bill Meyer On October 5, 2013 @ 12:34 am

After reading this article and comments, I’m wondering what’s “conservative” about praising and capitulating to one of the biggest collective takeovers of people’s scant remaining liberty in my lifetime.

At least “Smitty” has the good sense (unlike many) to call ACA what it is, slavery. My family premiums, formerly voluntary, now a forced purchase by the state, double under Obamacare. 1.5-2 months or so of income per year. (The numbers on the exchanges are still iffy) I suppose a certain amount of “slavery” is needed for civil society? Count me out.

One other commenter mentioned “anti-nudity laws force you to buy clothes”. What sophistry. When buying clothes I choose the number of outfits, what I cover, the style, the materials, and the COST. Caesar is not forcing his choice on me “for my own good”.

If the GOP is “wrecking everything” with this shutdown, good. There’s nothing much worth conserving or preserving in Mordor.

Now then, I have to get back to my job’s tasks…gotta’ pay for all this forced charity.

#35 Comment By Tim, a Polytropos On October 5, 2013 @ 1:03 am

I search the electronic pages of THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE increasingly and in vain for conservative wisdom and erudition. After having just read Mr. Dreher’s essay, I might just give up the search, and for good.

The essay conveys a fundamental failure to appreciate how and where Christian conservatism and Americanism intersect. Both of these would be found nil in the U.S. Congress if not for those of Senator Ted Cruz’s stripe. I thank my Lord that they hold office.

How so? Was Washington some sort of ideologue? Was Robert E. Lee? Conversely, and for all we owe to them, Mssrs. John Randolph, John Taylor and John Calhoun WERE IDEOLOGUES. Alas, A.T. Bledsoe has proven that Jefferson Davis, who led a counterrevolution against improvisation, was no traitor, and Russell Kirk, at whose feet I sat as a boy, would have affirmed the same.

How many from this American pantheon would now bestow his blessing upon Messrs. Cruz, M. Lee, Paul or Sessions? Most of them, I would wager! These are the natural successors to those who won greatness for the American way and set the roots of American order.

William F. Buckley, Jr., while still a conservative, declared a need to stand athwart the path of progress for the purpose of obstructing it. I believe that this is what Mr. Cruz and his band of brothers are trying to do. Has American conservatism become listless, effete, reduced to the merely academic? It is nothing without action.

The argument is not about Obamacare in the main, nor a debt ceiling (whatever that is construed to be). It is about the last, glowing embers of tradition, liberty, and human dignity becoming snuffed-out in perpetuity. May we put up a simple but determined fight to keep the fire burning without accusations of recklessness?

Mr. Dreher seems to be reckoning, with a rather complacent cool, that very little at all is now at stake. I would assert that EVERYTHING is at stake in this “battle.” And this struggle is incumbent on anyone claiming to be a principled and traditional conservative.

The American Revolution was not made, nor won, by cool intellects. And the vestiges of its republic have been preserved by those reverent, virtuous–and brash. Where is your passion for what has been and what ought to be, Mr. Dreher?

#36 Comment By Bob On October 5, 2013 @ 5:41 am

In 2012 the GOP platform called for a multi-billion dollar voucher-supported government-run health care exchange. Conservatives voted for it in droves and hailed it as a brilliant plan that would provide for America’s health care needs.
While its just human nature that partisan contempt lead a person to oppose policies that they support when voiced by their own guy, liberals have never gone even half this far off the rails opposing a policy that they actually agree with in principle. I think you’re right, conservatives need to ditch Fox News, turn of Limbaugh, shoot Glenn Beck in the face, and go sit someplace quietly and shrink the massive classical literature gap that contemporary liberals have opened up on them.

#37 Comment By Don Mynack On October 5, 2013 @ 11:11 am

“In 2012 the GOP platform called for a multi-billion dollar voucher-supported government-run health care exchange. ”

What are you talking about? Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity”? If so, that was defeated by the Democrats in the house and senate, primarily because it introduced some fiscal reform into the system and attempted to reform Medicare and Medicaid.

You are correct in that fact that it still created completely unnecessary gov’t exchanges that directly paid partial insurance premiums. It also did away with the individual mandate, the single most coercive part of Obamacare, which forces people of limited means to purchase insurance to cover assets that don’t have, primarily so the medical system can keep its margins up. Just a terrible idea all the way around.

#38 Comment By Scott Windle On October 5, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

Thank God Almighty there are 61 million privately owned guns in America. They will be critical in the coming difficulties to rid America of intellectuals satiated by hearing their own voices.

[NFR: Great, a right-wing Pol Pot. — RD]

#39 Comment By Jack On October 5, 2013 @ 8:07 pm

For my money, Bobby’s comment from a couple pages back hit the nail squarely on the head:

“A number of people in this country, particularly evangelical Christians, believe that they (and people like them) are the only ones who are entitled to govern, and that any other government is inherently evil. Thus, if they can’t call the shots, they’d rather just stand on the sidelines and toss sand into the gears.”

The Republican “Revolution” during the Clinton years marked a return to GOP control in Congress after 40 something years of being relegated to the role of “the loyal opposition.” In the ensuing decades, the party has completely forgotten how to play this role.

We can argue all day long (or several days in this case) about the merits or downsides of individual aspects of the health care law, but the real issue here is that the Republican Party as a whole is utterly unable to responsibly deal with the fact that they are not in complete control of the legislative process in Washington.

Tomorrow, I hear there is going to be an ad run during some football games accusing the House GOP members of throwing a tantrum. I haven’t seen the ad, but the description is apt. Being in control of only one half of the legislature, they are in effect throwing a tantrum in order to get the other half and the executive to do their bidding.

This intransigent position is driven by a sense of entitlement that is wholly undeserved. The GOP holds a majority in the House, but does not hold the Senate or the White House and as such does not deserve to control the agenda.

#40 Comment By Travis Mason-Bushman On October 5, 2013 @ 8:16 pm

“Republicans don’t need a strategy. They need to stop ObamaCare. If they don’t, there is no hope for what’s left of our civil institutions.”

Well, they aren’t going to – not until 2017 at the earliest. We live in a democratic system and the president is not going to sign a bill repealing his signature legislative achievement. Barring an (incredibly unlikely) veto override, we’ve got what we’ve got for the next three and a half years. That’s how it works in a constitutional democratic republic.

Please explain how every other Western democracy has an even MORE socialized health care system and has not had their “civil institutions” destroyed. Honestly, talking about a public-private health care system as if it’s going to destroy our “civil institutions” is just laughably awful hyperbole and nobody outside the right-wing echo chamber buys it.

#41 Comment By AnotherBeliever On October 5, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

John Gorentz says:
October 4, 2013 at 11:37 pm

“Republicans don’t need a strategy. They need to stop ObamaCare. If they don’t, there is no hope for what’s left of our civil institutions.”

How do you propose to stop Obamacare without a strategy? Leave the government shut down for two weeks? Two months? Then what? Besides, Obamacare IS IN EFFECT. No one has stopped it.

#42 Comment By James Maynard Gelinas On October 6, 2013 @ 8:41 am

This is a constitutional crisis.

Forget the ACA. That’s a side issue of relative irrelevance to the central matter on divisions of power between the branches of government, and in particular between the Senate and House in the congressional branch.

To sum up, the House is asserting an authority to overrule a duly passed into law budget that the Senate and House had both passed and reconciled through standard legislative processes. The President then signed that budget into law. In so doing the House threatens to default on US debt obligations, which is a direct violation of Article IV, Section I of the US Constitution (“full faith and credit”).

It’s that simple. If those members of the House who engage in this brinkmanship do not take legislative steps to increase the debt limit, and as a result the government defaults on its debt obligations, they will have directly violated their oaths of office. That is not hyperbole. The House of Representatives does not have the authority to use the debt limit as a means to overrule the Senate in laws already duly passed and signed.

And THAT is the authority they are really asserting here. Which is why should this happen it will be a major constitutional crisis. I believe the best option to prevent this may well be for a contempt of congress charge to be filed against those lawmakers unwilling to fulfill their elected duties and then take the matter to the Supreme Court.

But this must be resolved in a legal manner, and the House must be prevented from asserting this extra-constitutional authority to default on US debt obligations. Otherwise, should this become a procedural norm, it represents a direct breach of the full faith and credit clause, as well as to Senate authority.

The game the House is playing here is very dangerous.

#43 Comment By M. Hovell On October 6, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

The Republican strategy to defund the govt. or not raise the debt limit is irrational. Their strategy is to threaten pain upon the public unless they get their way. Shutting down ‘the govt.’ only causes grief to people – there is no ‘Mr. Govt.’ ‘Support us or we will hurt you’ does not seem like a prescription to win friends and influence people.

#44 Comment By Terry Mulcahy On October 7, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

No Smitty, it is not true that: “The ACA law FORCES individuals to make a purchase in the marketplace that they may wish not to.” In actuality, one does NOT have to purchase health insurance. (It is however, pretty stupid not to have health insurance.) Hell, my heart attack would have ruined me (at over $70,000 for an uncomplicated angioplasty and stent placement via my right arm). What the law does do, is penalize people who seek free health care after not buying insurance. The moral of the Act: health care is more expensive than most any of us can afford. Buy insurance, any insurance, or not. However, if you do not, you’re not going to get free services.

#45 Comment By PaulC On October 9, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

JonF,you either believe the State should provide for everyone’s needs from the cradle to the grave or you don’t. If you do, you’re a statist, if not, an individualist who believes the State should have only a limited welfare role, taking care of the neediest (the mentally or physically disabled or are unable to make a living or care for themselves, the elderly who have exhausted their savings, etc.) while letting everyone else provide for themselves. So, no, I’m not against all government assistance programs by any means, but I do oppose an ever expanding welfare state that seeks to softly cushion us all as we go through life. Besides, no country, even the United States, could long afford a welfare system on the scale envisioned by liberals.

#46 Comment By Adam On October 10, 2013 @ 7:52 pm

I used to think I was an individualist back when I was 16 and didn’t know any better. I wrote a paper as an assignment critical of the then new seat belt law stating people stupid enough not to utilize a seat belt had the right to die in an accident. Of course, that was short sighted since if they didn’t die, we all know they would receive treatment, and if they were stupid enough not to wear a seat belt, they were probably stupid enough not to have insurance, leading to the payment of their bill to the rest of us through higher premiums. Liberty isn’t just about your rights. Liberty is about your rights within the construct of the society in which you live. It’s about my right not to have to pay for your selfishness or stupidity.

#47 Comment By Stan On October 13, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

The health insurance law in Massachusetts is almost identical to the Affordable Care Act. Over 90% of the Massachusetts population supports their health insurance policy. Over 90% of the Massachusetts population has health insurance. The Massachusetts Republican party does not call for repeal of the state’s health insurance law.

The approach to health insurance used by the Affordable Care Act has been in operation for seven years in an American jurisdiction. None of the horrible things predicted for the Affordable Care Act has taken place in Massachusetts. Insurance premiums haven’t increased more than the national average. Patients can still find doctors. The number of people with health insurance has gone up, and I’m pretty sure the number of medical bankruptcies have gone down.

Does this tell you something? And why is it so hard for opponents of the Affordable Care Act, including Rod Dreher, to pay attention to facts?