Author Topic: Emerging GOP thought: Settle for medical device tax repeal, subsidy eligibility checks  (Read 306 times)

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Offline happyg

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Surrender and then declare victory?

An emerging idea among the so-called grownups we know and love as Beltway Republicans is that the GOP could end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling if Obama agrees to a) repeal the medical device tax; and b) agree to actually check the eligibility of those applying for ObamaCare subsidies.

These are both good ideas. The medical device tax adds to the overall cost of health care while adding an unwelcome burden to an industry that could be producing wealth and creating jobs. The subsidies are a fiasco for many reasons, but a big one is that the administration has decided to simply accept claims of eligibility without requiring any proof.

But is this what you would call victory? You shut down the government and push to the brink on the debt ceiling . . . to repeal the medical device tax and fix subsidy eligibility? That's it? That's all you get? No delay in the individual mandate? No real spending cuts? Nothing on entitlements?

This is coming out of the Senate as John Boehner extends an offer to Obama from the House - a short-term debt ceiling increase that would last six weeks in exchange for Obama's assent to really negotiate on terms to end the shutdown. That was presented at the White House yesterday, and the response was a predictable didn't-say-yes-didn't-say-no. But Senate Republicans are already laying the groundwork for what amounts to huge cave with a small face-saving feature.

The Wall Street Journal details the thinking:
Mr. Boehner's move met with mixed reaction from Senate Republicans. Some privately fumed that he had abandoned a long-standing party principle by agreeing to a debt-limit increase without any deficit-reduction conditions—and without finding a way to reopen the government.

"There is still some serious discussion within our caucus as to what the best strategy would be,'' said Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.). "A lot of us thought we were on a path to merging the debt limit and the continuing resolution."

Some Senate Republicans have been working with Democrats on a compromise that would resolve the impasses over both the debt ceiling and government shutdown.

The emerging deal would extend the debt limit and reopen the government with a one-year extension of current spending levels. It would also include two changes in the health law designed to win GOP support: a repeal of a tax on medical devices, and tightened procedures for checking individuals' eligibility for health insurance premium subsidies.

Here's what this would mean: The Republicans picked a very big fight - shutting down the government and holding up the debt ceiling increase - and achieved very little from it. Of course, establishment types argue that this was the problem with the shutdown strategy all along. Republicans could never get much more than this with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House, and now the only thing they can really hope for is a face-saving way out.

But the Journal's Kim Strassel, who is always a great read (and is also no fan of the shutdown/defund strategy), points out that constant showdowns and crises like these are mainly the doing of one man - Barack Obama:

Time and again, a spend-happy White House and Democrats have dug in, unwilling to buck liberal interest groups, refusing to touch Social Security or Medicare, mulishly granting only small spending concessions. Those were given only under duress, and only because the GOP threatened Armageddon in the 2011 debt-ceiling fight. Even then, the White House stubbornly refused to cede one dollar more than what was necessary to push another debt-ceiling round past the 2012 election.

So yes, Mr. Obama is facing another crisis—one of his own timing and making. And one that the White House and Democrats have understood was coming ever since 2011. And one that will be coming again—two weeks from now, six weeks from now, a year from now, three months after that—until such point as the White House does a significant deal, or the president's term ends. It is entirely the president's choice.

Strassel is right, which is why I don't entirely understand her hostility toward the Cruz faction and its tactics. Because you have a president who simply refuses to negotiate on anything, how do you get him to move without firing the biggest weapons you have? Previous presidents facing control of at least one house of Congress by the opposition party understood that the couldn't get everything they wanted, and had to negotiate with the other side to get budgets passed.

With Obama in the White House and Reid running the Senate, we don't even have budgets anymore. They just pass continuing resolutions reflecting their spending priorities, and if the House refuses to pass the CR based on any objection whatsoever, this is what we get. And because the CRs are always short-term rather than real budgets that last the entire fiscal year, Republicans are constantly faced with a choice between simply capitulating on the latest CR or saying no and inviting the latest crisis/showdown.

Obama doesn't think he should ever have to negotiate on anything. I have a lot of problems with John Boehner, but at least he is smart enough to see past Obama's absurd suggestion that he will negotiate on everything as soon as the government is re-opened and the debt ceiling is raised - in other words, as soon as the Republicans give up the only leverage they have.

But if they give up their leverage in exchange for as little as what the Senate Republicans are suggesting here, then they really did engage in this fight for next to nothing. And that would once again reward Obama's obstiance.

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