My NRB colleague Joseph Klein has a good look at the potential and pitfalls of the strategy. He notes that, since the Democrats still control the Senate and White House, ObamaCare won’t actually be repealed before 2012, but House Republicans have another way they can get policy results in the short term:
The Republican-controlled House also has the power of the purse, which its leaders say they intend to exercise by denying funding for implementing and enforcing key portions of Obamacare. But in order to make this stick, the Obama administration must be prohibited from moving discretionary monies around to make up for any shortfall in direct Obamacare funding. That means making it a criminal act for any Executive branch employee to use any monies appropriated by Congress to implement or enforce any portion of Obamacare unless there is an express Congressional appropriation specified for that purpose.
The time to impose such spending limitations with criminal sanctions is during the lead-up to the vote on raising the debt ceiling that will be occurring in a few weeks. This is the opportunity for the Republicans who are serious about cutting discretionary spending across the board, and stopping any spending on Obamare, to exercise maximum leverage.
President Obama will either have to blink or face the consequences of a government shutdown due to his intransigence on Obamacare and other wasteful spending. That’s a battle the Republicans should win hands-down if they stick to their guns.
Indeed. Republicans squishy on the repeal because it won’t pass need to understand something: without the presidency or a veto-proof Congress, the GOP shouldn’t expect to pass much of its own legislation into law at all. The objective for the time being isn’t to pass good laws, but to block bad ones where possible and to keep forcing the Democrats to explain their position on things like health care to the American people, in particular their insistence on keeping something the country doesn’t want.
Without losing sight of other important business, Republicans should periodically reintroduce ObamaCare repeal bills until Election Day 2012, to keep the bill’s failings – and its supporters’ folly and hubris – fresh in the public’s mind.