WASHINGTON, October 1, 2013 — The million dollar question in Washington this week is how far are House Republican lawmakers will go to diminish the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.”
Last week the House, under Speaker John Boehner, passed legislation that allowed funding for the federal government until mid-December. However, this bill excluded any spending for the Affordable Care Act, spurring a contentious battle.
The inability of Congress and the Obama administration to agree on a budget has now forced a federal government shutdown, which the nation hasn’t seen in over 15 years.
There are two truths related to the current status quo on Capitol Hill. The first is the potential for a real government shutdown if the parties are unable to reach some type of agreement. The second is that the House and the White House are not willing to compromise on raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., continue to refuse to consider increasing the debt ceiling. This has sparked scolding from the Administration.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently told Congress to stop playing politics and come up with a deal to get the nation’s finances back in order. He also admonished them to recognize the debt limit expiration and noted that it has been raised 13 times in twelve years.
“Make no mistake: If Congress does not act and the U.S. suddenly cannot pay its bills, the repercussions could be serious,” Secretary Lew said in a recent interview.
Secretary Lew’s concerns raise serious red flags for both the House and Senate as the implications of failing to pass a bill could drastically impact the nation’s already fragile economy.
The response of doing nothing now puts House Republicans in a tricky predicament. Perhaps using the debt ceiling as a way to repeal Obamacare could save time in Washington, but it’s not a solution.
Meanwhile, President Obama has signalled that he is not interested in negotiations on the debt ceiling. According to a speech recently given at the Washington Convention Center for the Congressional Black Caucus Black Tie Gala, the President discussed the possibility of negotiating the debt ceiling, saying, “It’s not going to happen. We have come too far.”
So what’s the end result? The Republicans can continue to use the debt ceiling as a political platform against Obamacare, only for a short period.
Meanwhile, House Republicans have to be ready, willing and able to articulate to the American people that the debt ceiling, special entitlement reform, budget cuts, and debt default are all strategic methods to force the President to make a deal in exchange for prolonging the government shutdown.
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