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“The Party That Couldn’t Kabuki Straight”: Prone To Fights To The Death Over Strategy, Tactics And Above All, Symbolism

If you have been following the intra-GOP brouhaha in the U.S. House semi-carefully, you probably realize that much of the conflict between Freedom Caucus bravos and the other Republicans has been over how much hysteria to expend on efforts to force presidential vetoes of prized legislation instead of letting their bills succumb to Senate filibusters. Perhaps some of these birds actually do believe Obama would allow them to kill funding for Planned Parenthood or revoke his executive actions on immigration or mess up Obamacare in the face of a government shutdown or a debt limit default. But for the most part they seem to think there’s vast electoral or psychological or moral gold to be mined from showing exactly what they would do if one of their hirelings was in the White House.

Presumably that’s why the Kabuki Theater exercise of sending Obama a budget reconciliation bill–which cannot be filibustered–that “defunds” Planned Parenthood and repeals key parts of Obamacare has run afoul of right-wing opposition, per a report from Politico‘s Seung Min Kim:

[T]hree conservative members of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s conference — Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Mike Lee of Utah — have already vowed to vote against the current reconciliation package that repeals major parts of Obamacare, arguing it doesn’t go far enough. If those votes don’t budge, McConnell can’t afford to lose any more votes from his 54-member ranks.

Meanwhile, a provision in the reconciliation bill that defunds Planned Parenthood for one year could cause some heartburn for moderates who don’t support stripping money from the women’s health group.

A draft bill did pass the House on Friday, but over the opposition of Heritage Action, which will make another effort to blow it up in the Senate unless the Obamacare repeal language is broader. But that could make the bill vulnerable to a parliamentarian’s ruling that it violates the Byrd Rule limiting reconciliation bills to provisions germane to the federal budget.

You will note that Marco Rubio, the smart-money favorite to become the Republican Establishment’s darling and win the GOP presidential nomination, is right there with Ted Cruz on obstructing any bill that leaves any significant element of Obamacare standing–on paper, of course. This is presumably a gesture by Rubio to reassure ideologues he would make the executive branch an instrument of their will should they allow his name to grace the top of the ballot next year.

This is the congressional party Paul Ryan will apparently try to lead as Speaker–one prone to fights to the death over strategy, tactics and above all symbolism.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, October 26, 2015

 

October 26, 2015 Posted by | House Freedom Caucus, House Republicans, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“More Budget Gimmickry”: Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget

Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee voted Thursday to shield attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act from objections that it would add to the government’s budget deficit.

The budget resolution for 2016 includes what are known as reconciliation instructions that tell several congressional committees to come up with ways to undo Obamacare. Such reconciliation measures only require 51 votes to pass in the Senate.

But the spending plan also includes language that allows lawmakers to raise what are known as budget points of order against any legislation that would add more than $5 billion to the deficit, and block it. According to the last estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, repealing Obamcare would add $210 billion to the deficit.

That would seem to make it likely that any Obamacare repeal effort would run afoul of a point of order, which takes 60 votes to surmount. So, later in the resolution, it exempts an attempt to repeal Obamacare from those points of order.

“What we have in this budget is a very interesting situation,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who offered an amendment to make the deficit rules apply to Obamacare repeal.

“We have a point of order in the budget for anything that adds to the deficit, but we have a section that specifically excludes the Affordable Care Act from that,” Stabenow said. “So think about it. This budget is conceding the fact that the Affordable Care Act has reduced the deficit, and repealing the law would increase the deficit.”

Stabenow also alluded a related problem the GOP budget ignores: At the same time that it instructs Congress to come up with a repeal, it continues to count all the revenue that the Affordable Care Act is expected to raise — and which the government wouldn’t collect if the law is dismantled.

“You can’t rig the rules on both sides,” Stabenow said. “That’s not fair. I would argue that’s really budget gimmickry. I think it’s important if you are going to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, you have to step up and assume the consequences of that.”

Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) did not dispute Stabenow’s claim, but seemed to think it was irrelevant, since even if a point of order applies to a repeal measure, it still could be overridden if 60 senators vote to do so. That’s the same filibuster-proof number it takes to pass controversial legislation.

And while using budget reconciliation instructions prevents filibusters — so something can pass with just 51 votes — many parts of the Affordable Care Act could not be legally included in such a measure. And even if they could, it would take a two-thirds majority to override a presidential veto that would be certain to follow.

“I think that probably any repeal is probably going to take at least 60 votes, and probably 67 votes,” Enzi said.

Still, Stabenow countered that her amendment was useful in making clear what was actually happening in the name of “honest budgeting.”

Republicans opposed Stabenow’s amendment on a party-line vote, 12 to 10, and passed the budget by the same tally.

The measure is expected to be on the Senate floor next week.

 

By: Michael McAuliff, The Blog, The Huffington Post, March 19 , 2015

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Federal Budget, Republicans | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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