House Republicans have now voted 39 times to repeal Obamacare. On a certain level, their persistence is admirable in the same way that I admire the way my dog never stops believing that this will be the time that he finally catches that squirrel. One's esteem is diminished only slightly by the fact that there's no way in hell Charlie's jaws will ever know the satisfaction of clenching on living squirrel, just as the GOP's Obamacare dream will always crushed by Senate Democrats.
But Congressional Republicans are a good deal smarter than my dog, who would willingly march before a death panel for a thorough scratch behind the ear. While he never alters his strategy of hurtling himself headlong at the scampering critters only to be surprised and baffled by their tree-climbing skills, the Republicans adapt.
That's what they're doing now. The New York Times reports today on the GOP's new strategy, which is less about bleeding Obamacare through a thousand cuts than about holding the entire federal budget hostage until they get their way.
On Tuesday, a House Appropriations subcommittee formally drafted legislation that would cut the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by 34 percent and eliminate his newly announced greenhouse gas regulations. The bill cuts financing for the national endowments for the arts and the humanities in half and the Fish and Wildlife Service by 27 percent.
For the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, Mr. Obama requested nearly $3 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs -- a mainstay of his economic agenda since he was first elected. The House approved $826 million. Senate Democrats want to give $380 million to ARPA-E, an advanced research program for energy. The House allocated $70 million.
A House bill to finance labor and health programs, expected to be unveiled Wednesday, makes good on Republican threats to eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The labor and health measure -- for years the most contentious spending bill -- will protect some of the White House's priorities, like Head Start, special education and the National Institutes of Health, but to do so education grants for poor students will be cut by 16 percent and the Labor Department by 13 percent, according to House Republican aides.
"These are tough bills," acknowledged Representative Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who leads the House Appropriations Committee. "His priorities are going nowhere."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Leading this battle in the other chamber is Texas' Senate delegation of Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Cruz co-authored a letter, immediately signed by Cornyn, warning of consequences if Democrats insist on continuing to fund the implementation of Obamacare.
We view the Obama Administration's recent decision to delay ObamaCare's employer mandate and eligibility verification for the individual exchanges as further proof the law is a failure that will inevitably hurt businesses, American families, and the economy.
In light of this admission, we believe the only way to avert disaster is to fully repeal ObamaCare and start over with a more sensible, practical approach to reforming our health care system.
However, if Democrats will not agree with Republicans that ObamaCare must be repealed, perhaps they can at least agree with the president that the law cannot be implemented as written. If the administration will not enforce the law as written, then the American people should not be forced to fund it.
The threat is veiled, but it's there. If the Dems don't give in, Cruz, Cornyn and their Tea Party-courting colleagues will work to shut down the federal government by refusing to vote for spending measures to keep things running.
The chances that Obama and his allies in Congress will suddenly abandon one of his signature achievements because the junior senator from Texas threatened him are nil. The chances that the GOP will be able to hold Obamacare hostage and force a government shutdown are considerably higher.