August 9, 2013

The GOP division over whether to defund Obamacare can be summarized in two quotes: This, from Texas senator Ted Cruz: "We can de-fund Obamacare if Republican leaders who tell their constituents they're conservative stand up and act like they're conservative."

And in opposition, Ramesh Ponnuru: said:

[I]f Republicans stay firm in this demand [to defund Obamacare], the result will be either a government shutdown or a partial shutdown combined with a debt default.

Either would be highly unpopular, and each party would blame the other. The public, however, would almost certainly blame Republicans.

And which blame, according to Ponnuru and those in his camp, would lead to an electoral debacle for Republicans in the 2014 midterm elections. Why? Because that's what happened to Republicans when they "shut down the government" in 1995.

Or did it? In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Newt Gingrich, who was at the epicenter of the '95 shutdown, cut through the revisionist fog to remind us that "The facts are exactly the opposite." The ultimate result [of the '95 shutdown] was the first four consecutive balanced budgets since the 1920s, paying off more than $450 billion in federal debt. We also overhauled welfare -- the most successful and popular entitlement reform of our lifetime -- strengthened Medicare and enacted the first tax cut in 16 years. It was this tax cut that boosted economic growth and allowed us to balance the budget four years earlier than projected. During my years as speaker, more than 8.4 million new jobs were created, reducing the national unemployment rate from 5.6 percent to 4.3 percent.

And in the '96 election, less than a year later?

Those who claim that the shutdown was politically disastrous for Republicans ignore the fact that our House seat losses in 1996 were in the single digits. Moreover, it was the first time in 68 years that Republicans were reelected to a House majority - and the first time that had ever happened with a Democrat winning the presidency.

And remember President Obama and his media sycophants' near-hysterical warnings of the pain and suffering (so they claimed) that would befall the American people if Republicans allowed the sequester that the president himself proposed take effect?

But they did. And seven months have passed since the sequester took effect and the only thing harder to see than "disastrous effects" on the nation, is disastrous effects on the GOP's electoral chances in 2014.
Which is precisely the point. Once it becomes clear that House Republicans are willing to let a shutdown happen if that's what it takes to stop Obamacare, conservatives should expect the usual remonstrations from the usual mainstream media suspects. And expect the hysterics to increase by several magnitudes after the shutdown occurs, if it does.

But as happened after the '95 shutdown, and the sequester, this, too, shall pass.

Given an unpopular law and an unpopular president responsible for shoving that law down the American people's throats, and a "government shutdown" that would have ended months earlier and taken Obamacare with it, is it reasonable to expect Republicans to fare worse in 2014 than they did in 1995, with a popular president, a popular agenda (tax cuts and budget cuts) and a booming economy?

The answer, I strongly believe, is no. But only if Republicans are rewarded for shutting down the government, with a clear and convincing victory. And no, it does not have to be a total repeal of Obamacare (though that certainly should be their stance, going in). As one health care insurance expert, C. Steven Tucker explained, simply "making sure that there is no money appropriated for federally-facilitated HIX -- Health Insurance Exchanges" might do the trick.

Conversely, if Republicans "shut down the government" without achieving anything, or at least nothing substantive, I would predict a disastrous and humiliating debacle in the midterms, with many more electoral defeats to come, perhaps for decades. Napoleon said, "If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna."

And if you set out to stop Obamacare, stop Obamacare."

All we, and the majority of Americans, who oppose Obamacare, need is a critical mass of committed, conservative Republicans with sufficient backbone for the fight. This will, like Custer's Last Stand, be the GOP's if they don't.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.