“Nancy Pelosi is more well-liked around here,” an anonymous Republican aide bitched to National Review about Ted Cruz.
“In the United States Senate, we will not repeal or defund Obamacare. We will not. And to think we can is not rational,” John McCain told CNN.
Cruz has dismissed the House’s repeated “empty, symbolic votes” to repeal and delay Obamacare.
The Affordable Care Act is unpopular. Millions of Americans prefer the care they already have to that which the law purports to make affordable. Even the lawmakers who wrote it and the labor unions that spent liberally to help enact it are finding it a raw deal.
Substantial parts of the law have been delayed and plenty of politically connected organizations and businesses have gotten waivers. Polls show that many Americans would like waivers or delays for themselves. This is true of independents and a significant minority of Democrats, not just Republicans. There is bipartisan support in Congress for repealing the medical devices tax and delaying the individual mandate.
But you wouldn’t know anything about this because at the precise moment Obamacare has begun to fall apart, when it is denounced as much at an AFL-CIO convention as a meeting of Tea Party Patriots, Republicans have opted to train their fire on one another.
No one faction is entirely to blame. Capitol Hill is filled with Republicans who would rather complain about Ted Cruz’s table manners than do anything about Obamacare. Cruz’s supporters have elevated tactical differences into theological disputes.
The party has spent months divided between an anti-Obamacare strategy that is unworkable and an anti-Obamacare strategy that is nonexistent. No one has covered themselves in glory here. Now Republicans are running out of time to salvage even a symbolic victory of reminding the American people how out of touch the Democrats are on Obamacare.
As the end of the fiscal year fast approaches, we are faced with two unpleasant prospects: a Republican surrender that will humiliate and enrage conservative activists or a government shutdown that will turn much of the rest of the country against Republicans, again taking the spotlight off Obamacare.
Ever since Newt Gingrich became speaker, Republicans have developed a knack for making fiscal responsibility look irresponsible. The federal government currently piles up as much debt in a decade as it once took 200 years to amass. It took until 1987 for the federal budget to reach $1 trillion and until 1998 for the national debt to reach $5 trillion. The debt ceiling was $2.3 trillion in 1980, a number that would tank Washington’s credit rating today.