Speaker of the House John Boehner, (R-OH) issued a statement today repeating his chant that the American people don’t want a government shutdown and they don’t want Obamacare. The first part of the chant is most certainly true among the vast majority of level headed Americans, the second part is a closer call, according to a Gallup poll in July.
But the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. It hasn't been given a fair chance to make the nation’s health care system work better while ensuring that a far higher percentage of the population have health care coverage. Already there is evidence that rate of increase in health care costs is lower.
There is a move by a minority of House Republicans to use a threat of a government shutdown or worse, a default on the nation’s payments on outstanding government bonds. Many economists believe the latter would lead to an economic Armageddon.
At this point the government shutdown looks like it will happen. The House has amended the Senate passed bill for a continuing resolution that would have kept the government funded and running till the end of November, leaving time to seek a resolution on a longer term budget, but the House amendment calls for a delay in implementing Obamacare until 2015. It is inconceivable that the Democrat controlled Senate will go along, since such a delay in implementation would likely be a death knell for the law and for health care reform for the foreseeable future. There is no other plan that Republicans have put forward for reforming health care. In fact, before Obamacare was passed, it was a Republican plan, touted by conservative think tanks and implemented in Massachusetts by then governor, Republican Mitt Romney.
Time filibustering by Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) has left little time for serious negotiations that would avoid at least a brief government shutdown. The Senate is not in session this weekend and Monday is the last day of the fiscal year.
The Republican fight against Obamacare appears futile. Even if a bill to weaken Obamacare were to somehow pass the Democrat controlled Senate, President Obama would veto the bill. Obamacare will go into effect and time will tell if it works as planned.
The best thing that could happen to resolve this dispute is for moderate Republicans in the House to join House Democrats in passing a government funding bill leaving Obamacare intact. In the end, this is probably the way the dispute will end. But at the moment, this looks as if it won’t be before a government shutdown, nor before a Republican threat to force a government default on its debt when Republicans refuse to pass what is usually a routine action to raise the debt ceiling.
None of this is helpful to the nation’s ongoing but slow economic recovery just when that recovery looked as if it were ready to pick up some momentum.
A default on U.S. government bonds, should that catastrophe ever happen, would probably lead to a world wide economic depression and a devastating drop in respect for the United States across the globe.