Thursday, September 26, 2013

In the Twilight Zone

Today is Thursday, September 26, 2013.

We must be living in the Twilight Zone, because the news media says that Senator Ted Cruz,  R-TX, voted with 99 other senators - that's a unanimous vote - to fund Obamacare, after spending 21 hours straight filibustering against it!  

Cruz now says it was always his intention to vote to move forward on the Senate debate of the House measure, but you sure couldn't tell that from what he said earlier.

"Any senator who votes (to move forward with debate on the House measure) is voting to give Harry Reid the authority to fund Obamacare," Cruz said.  Cruz did not technically do a "filibuster," because his speech did not actually delay any votes, and given the fact that he voted with the Democrats, anyway, what was the point?  Was this all for show?  

Senator John McCain, R-AZ said that  "the people spoke" on the issue when they reelected President Barack Obama in 2012.  While McCain does think it's worthwhile to make efforts to "repair" Obamacare, it is not worth shutting down the government to do it.  McCain has got his finger on the pulse of the people, in this instance.

Obamacare has never been wildly popular, mainly because of a lot of trash-talk against it generated by opponents.  A great many people don't even really understand it that well.  But shutting down the government is hands down way, way more unpopular than Obamacare.  According to a CBS poll, "eighty percent of Americans say threatening a government shutdown during budget debates is not an acceptable way to negotiate; only 16 percent think it is."   

So will the government be shut down over Obamacare?  With poll numbers like these, probably not.  Most likely, there will be some sort of announcement of an eleventh-hour agreement, or perhaps an extra-inning negotiation in which some sort of consensus will be reached – for now, anyway – only a few hours after the deadline.  (No harm, no foul, right?  I don't know... what do you think?)

It is unlikely that Obamacare will be fully repealed, or even seriously defunded, although it may be revised in the future.  Meanwhile, it would be nice to just see how it works. Unfortunately, in Republican-controlled states, no help will be given to folks to apply for coverage.  In spite of this, the proof will be in the pudding, and people will be watching how things play out in both Republican and Democrat-controlled states, and there's no question that comparisons will be made.

Meanwhile, some pundits are saying that Cruz' speech had nothing to do with Obamacare and everything to do with creating a Republican coalition.  Some coalition, though, when it sounds like it will be dominated by the ultraconservative Tea Party.   Where are the centrists? 

Passing legislation in the United States Congress is like a ping-pong game.  A bill is introduced in one of the houses (House of Representatives or Senate) and passed, usually with much debate, many amendments, and a lot of pork added, then the other house hassles over it.  Sometimes the other house goes ahead and passes a bill on the same issue.  Then there is a lot of haggling over the two versions until one heavily modified version wins out.  The whole thing resembles a ping-pong game.  Back and forth, back and forth.   

 Will Congress be able to agree on a budget and move on?  Somehow, I have a feeling that they will just find a way to delay that until after the next election cycle.  This is getting very, very old.   :-(

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