Patterico's Pontifications


It’s Official: Old Guard GOP Senators Will Shoot Down Cruz’s Attempt to Make a Filibuster Possible on the Issue of ObamaCare

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:19 pm

It’s an opportunity that careerist politicians can’t resist: the chance to look like they’re doing something about a divisive issue, while in reality they’re doing nothing . . . and incurring zero political risk in the process.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and many of his rank and file are poised to cast votes this week that will effectively rebuke Sen. Ted Cruz’s effort to filibuster a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government funded past Sept. 30.

Cruz has been calling on fellow Republicans to block the House-passed stopgap spending bill that defunds the president’s 2010 health care law because he sees the vote as a way to prevent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., from stripping out the Obamacare funding blockade.

But a GOP-led filibuster puts many Republicans in the tough spot of opposing a bill they actually support while also likely causing a government shutdown. Any vote to filibuster is likely to come before Reid moves to strike the Obamacare defunding language.

“Sen. McConnell supports the House Republicans’ bill and will not vote to block it, since it defunds Obamacare and funds the government without increasing spending by a penny. He will also vote against any amendment that attempts to add Obamacare funding back into the House Republicans’ bill,” said Don Stewart, spokesman for the Kentucky Republican. “If and when the Majority Leader goes down that path, Washington Democrats will have to decide — without hiding behind a procedural vote — whether or not to split with their leadership and join Republicans and their constituents in opposing the re-insertion of Obamacare funding into the House-passed bill.”

You see what they’re doing there. A vote to consider the bill is really a vote for ObamaCare, because it smooths the way for Harry Reid to amend the most central provision and take out the defunding language by a majority vote. Cruz’s method, opposing the bill being considered at all, makes a filibuster possible, allowing Cruz to stand up and speechify about ObamaCare. But, because Cruz’s tactic requires him — technically but only technically — to “oppose” (try to filibuster) a bill he actually supports, it’s a tough sell for the low information voter. (Cruz is up to the task of explaining this, as you can see from last night’s post.) But, just as the fighting approach is tough to explain, the converse is true: the do-nothing vote is easy to explain. It’s easy to pretend you’re doing something, because you can say you voted for the consideration of a good bill! Why, what could be wrong with that?

Witness Lindsey Graham trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the low info voter:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is up for re-election and faces a tea party challenge, didn’t mince words about the problem with the tactics being employed by his fellow GOP senators.

“I think we’ll take up the House bill because it’s a good bill. I can’t imagine filibustering the bill that I like from the House. There will be a vote to take out the defunding of Obamacare. It will be a majority vote,” Graham said Monday on Fox News. “And I’m hoping some Democrats will side with all Republicans to keep the defunding in place, but I doubt it.”


Make no mistake: anyone voting to consider this bill is allowing the funding of ObamaCare and knows it.

And they’ll look you right in the eye and tell you the opposite.

What If House Republicans Actually Held Firm on Defunding?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am

I had dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, and I raised the issue: what if House Republicans actually held firm on defunding ObamaCare?

I know, I know, it won’t happen. But this is a blog, not real life, so hear me out while we fantasize.

My friend, of course, said: well, then the press would kick into gear blaming Republicans, and Republicans would back down.

Well, duh. That’s what always happens. We pretend to take a stand, the media raises its hand to smack us, and we cringe and back away before the blow ever lands.

But I pressed on. What if we continued to stand firm, against all the historical evidence of our inability to do so?

You mean, what if someone surgically implanted a spine in these people? my friend asked. Exactly, I said.

We gamed it out, and I made a case, which I would like to make to you now, that we could actually win this thing. In theory. Here’s my thinking: as the pain of a government shutdown increases, if Republicans actually stood firm and made their case, it might start to sink in that the government shutdown might end if Obama just agreed to defund ObamaCare. Which people basically hate anyway.

We might pay a heavy political price for it. Or maybe, just maybe, we would gain some respect.

I believe that, to most of the public, politicians are like two kids squawking in the back seat. They always seem to fight, and you don’t really care what they’re fighting about. You just want it to stop.

So imagine the scenario.

Barry and Ted are in the back seat. They’re fighting because Barry wants to play his PSP and Ted says it’s making annoying noises that are too loud, causing it to be hard for him to read. You, the parent, agree the PSP is too loud, and wish Barry would stop playing it, but Barry argues that it was agreed at the beginning of the trip that he could play it. If the bickering continues, you’re going to snap at Ted because, just shut up, Ted. This was the agreement and we are sticking to it.

But what if Ted is unfazed by any threats of punishment, and the bickering continues? Let’s say you have a three-day trip ahead of you and you can’t take the bickering. But you have to stay strapped into the seat and you can’t stop the car for even one second. Ted tells you the bickering is going to continue, punishment or no punishment, because he is standing on principle.

Chances are you will be unimpressed and threaten him worse. You might even actually stop the car and spank him, and threaten to take away his books for two months, or four months — or forever.

But what if none of this had an effect? Ted, who has always been compliant in the past, simply will. not. give. in. It’s been two days into the car ride now, and the bickering is constant. You just want it to stop. You swear when the car stops, you will give Ted a punishment he will never forget. But all the while, Ted explains to you why he is taking this stand. He can’t concentrate, and he needs to read to get his book report done on time. If he can’t read his book, he can’t turn in the book report. Frankly, Barry should be reading too. And by the way, mom and dad, I know the beeping annoys you too because I heard you say so to each other. And when you guys agreed to let him play it, you thought he was going to bring his headphones. It’s only after it was too late to go back for them that Barry told you he forgot them.

Mom and dad, I don’t want to bicker. I’ll stop the second Barry stops playing his PSP. Let him read like I am doing.

At some point, if the bickering is bad enough? Mom and dad might turn to Barry, and say: we know we told you that you could play it, but you didn’t bring your headphones. It’s not quiet like we thought it would be. We agree Ted should not be bitching about it, but we can’t take the noise any more. Put the damn PSP away, Barry.

Could happen. Depending on how annoying the bickering became and how much the parents wanted it to stop, they might redirect their anger — if Ted’s argument actually makes sense, and they end up actually listening to it.

It’s a fantasy. Most kids would not have Ted’s principle, and would give in to the threats. That’s how we control our kids, and it’s shocking when they don’t comply.

I can hear one objection from this readership: no way I would give in to Ted. Ted would get beaten until he is black and blue, and he would damn well comply.

I hear you! But I think most parents don’t have your principles. They would give in to the need to stop the bickering.

Voters don’t care about this stuff. If we actually stood on principle, they might tell Barry: put away your little ObamaCare toy we don’t like that much anyway. Ted’s right, after all.

I know. I know. It will never happen.

But a guy can dream, right?

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