GOP: We’ll stick to speeches about Obamacare, but thanks for the defunding advice

Matt K. Lewis | Senior Contributor

By “Matt Lewis & The News” guest blogger Jason Mattera

What, exactly, will Republicans use as leverage to hang over Democrats’ heads to impede the healthcare law’s full implementation?

We’re told that the “continuing resolution” – the mechanism to fund the government – is off limits, with Mitch McConnell being the latest “establishment” figure to oppose the efforts of Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee to derail Obamacare.

And McConnell’s counterparts in the House, both John Boehner and Eric Cantor, want no part of the conversation.

“No one is advocating a government shutdown,” Cantor is quoted as saying.

Instead, GOP leaders want a “well-placed, targeted strikes that will ultimately dissolve the Obamacare coalition,” Boehner clarified.

Sounds great and all, but the question goes back to one of leverage.

How will Republicans ascertain “well-placed” and “targeted” concessions from Democrats if not by withholding support for a continuing resolution that must get passed?

Will Boehner and company hold off until we, once again, bump up against the debt limit? Will that be the leverage they use? If you can believe it, that’s what we’re being told. But that scenario doesn’t seem plausible, more like a deflection, considering the fact that putting the nation’s credit at risk (as the spin will go) is far more precarious than navigating around a possible government shutdown.

Honestly, though, the vehicle, or the “how,” to defund the monstrous healthcare law is not really the issue at hand.

The real issue is trust.

The base of the Republican Party does not trust the leadership of McConnell, Boehner, and Cantor to take meaningful steps to neuter Obamacare.

They just don’t.

Sure, we’re bombarded with a surplus of speeches and press releases on how the law is terrible legislation, deserving of immediate repeal. We even get votes in the House, 40 and counting, that repeal the badly-misnamed Affordable Care Act, with congressmen rushing to the nearest Fox News camera after the cast is complete to brag about their “courageous,” but utterly meaningless, vote.

Yet when a band of their colleagues devise a strategy that goes beyond speechifying and instead harnesses their Constitutional powers to fund (or defund) legislation while simultaneously placing the onus on Democrats to defend a deeply unpopular law, many of those same Republicans start firing at the wrong side.

Senator Richard Burr called the proposal the “dumbest idea” he’d ever heard of. Tom Coburn labeled it “dishonest” (John McCain, naturally, agreed), and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin recently poured cold water on the idea.

It’s as though the trio of Paul, Cruz, and Lee spend as much time deflecting criticism from their own party as they do from liberals.

And that’s unfortunate because showing a unified front on Obamacare should be easy. Almost daily we’re peppered with another story detailing yet another Obamacare debacle.To make matters even easier for Republicans, why fund a law that the President selectively chooses to enforce? Heck, a large majority think Obamacare’s roll out is a “joke.”

But if the GOP’s leadership can’t coalesce support now under very favorable circumstances, what makes us think they’ll do so in the future?

If nothing else, use the “continuing resolution” to gain significant concessions from Democrats, like further delays, even if a full-out repeal is out of reach.

It’s called negotiation, fellas.

Remember the CLASS Act, the portion of Obamacare entitlement involving long-term disability care? That entitlement turned out to be so costly (even for Democrats) that it was revoked in the fiscal cliff “deal” late last year.

The point is to negotiate from a strong position right out of the gate, not preemptively throw your hands up in surrender.

But for too many Republicans, it’s far easier to talk about how bad Obamacare is, and even campaign against it, than it is to engage in a scrappy fight over its operation.

Can’t get your hands dirty now!

Just think, three years ago Republicans made Nancy Pelosi give up her gavel in large part because constituents flooded town halls to express outrage and dissatisfaction over the newly-passed Affordable Care Act. Flash forward to today and the GOP is being hounded at town halls by constituents over the lackluster commitment to defund Obamacare .

Republicans need to give people a reason to vote for them in 2014.

Giving a speech won’t cut it.

Jason Mattera is the New York Times bestselling author of Hollywood Hypocrites and Obama Zombies as well as a radio host with legendary 77 WABC in NYC. His website is www.JasonMattera.com, where he offers a free e-book, 7 Ways To Make A Liberal Cry Like A Little Girl.

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