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What happens if Republicans shut down the government?

More and more Republicans are talking about shutting down the government over health-care repeal. Kevin Drum would like to see them try:

The problem for Republicans is that it would give President Obama a perfect soapbox for talking endlessly about all the benefits of ACA, and the drama of a shutdown means that plenty of people would actually be listening. So not only would Republicans look petulant and childish if they repeatedly passed bills that either failed in the Senate or got vetoed, but Obama would spend the entire time talking about how he'll never let the Republican Party take away your right to insurance even if you have a preexisting condition. And he'll never let them take away the small-business tax credits. And he'll never let them reinstitute the doughnut hole. Rinse and repeat.

Not only would Republicans lose the showdown, but they'd quite possibly end up making ACA popular for the first time in its existence. I suspect the saner elements of the GOP leadership are pretty well aware of this. They might feel like they have to make a pro forma effort to repeal health-care reform, but if they shut down the government, I think they'll pick a different excuse.

It's always hard to predict how these things will go, but that's generally why politicians don't like to try them: It's high-risk, and the reward is terribly uncertain.

By Ezra Klein  | September 20, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
 
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Comments

They are so beholden to their teabagger masters now that they'll do it even if they know it doesn't make sense.

Posted by: lcrider1 | September 20, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

What happens in the Republicans "shut down the government"?

Speeches, yelling, many talking heads on the Sunday shows, government shutdown is over. Republicans blamed for large swath of ambiguous, non-specific things that are somehow the fault of the three day government shutdown.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 20, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"Obama would spend the entire time talking about how he'll never let the Republican Party take away your right to insurance even if you have a preexisting condition."

That this threat might actually be credible is a depressing thought.

There is no such thing as a "right to insurance". If there is a right to insurance, then there is no right to liberty, as a right to insurance implies that someone must be forced to provide it.

There is no "right to insurance" even under Obamacare, as most people will still have to pay for it or they will not receive it (rather, they will receive a penalty).

The "right to insurance even with a pre-existing condition" is as strange a concept as a "right to homeowner's insurance even if your house has already caught fire." It is no longer insurance. It is the "right" to health care services on someone else's dime.

Either people are unaware of the implications of such a "right" (bad enough) or are aware and do not care as long as they get their promised goodies (quite worse).

Posted by: justin84 | September 20, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

justin

are you planning to take social security and medicare, when you grow older? what about unemployment benefits if you lose your job?
i wonder if your tune would change if you had a very ill member of your family, who you loved and worried about, and couldnt get insurance for them?

i dont see republicans turning down their benefits.
in fact, in the retirement community where i live, there is a big tea party contingent, and i dont think most of them are sending their checks back to the government each month, or turning down health care in their old age.
there is lots of talking the talk, and little walking of the walk.
talk is cheap.
talk is cheap among a lot of republicans these days.

Posted by: jkaren | September 20, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

What will happen? The same thing as happened in 1995: the people will make the Republicans realize that the government is not unnecessary and unwanted. The Republicans will then put their tails between their legs and sulk and lick their wounds while the nation moves forward.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | September 20, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If the GOP takes over the gvmt, then the best thing that can happen is for them to shut it down as we await the next election.

Posted by: lauren2010 | September 20, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

@Justin: "There is no such thing as a 'right to insurance'"

Indeed. Even if you perceive there as being a benefit to universal coverage (and I can see the argument for that being a general and societal benefit), there is a difference between what is a "good idea" or an "optimal social contract" or some such, and a "right".

@jkaren: "i wonder if your tune would change if you had a very ill member of your family, who you loved and worried about, and couldnt get insurance for them?"

It wouldn't change my tune, as such circumstances, unfortunate though they are, don't make access to a specific level of healthcare (because there is always a level of healthcare inaccessible to most, if not nearly everybody) a "right", anymore that it would make healthcare a tuna sandwich. I'm going to collect every dime of my Social Security, use Medicare if it is useful to me. I have been on unemployment twice. However, those things aren't rights (except perhaps as right of contract, being that I arguably pay into them in some form or fashion, and have a right of access based on my payment, just as I would for private insurance). Though they may represent useful social policies or good ideas, potentially.

"and i dont think most of them are sending their checks back to the government each month, or turning down health care in their old age."

And the folks--especially the well-to-do folks--that always argue that taxes should be higher don't voluntarily send more of their money into the government, though it's easier than ever to do so. That's a non-starter as an argument. Folks don't live their lives by the principles they believe should be enshrined as public policy on either side of the aisle. Except folks for SS reform might put some of their money in private accounts already. So that's sort of consistent.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | September 20, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

The Dems seem incapable of messaging or fighting any more. I would bet they would blow this opportunity, too.

Posted by: AZProgressive | September 20, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Laws often give citizens certain "rights" or protections.

The new HCR bill does that.

However, the new HCR bill does NOT make health insurance/care accessibility a fundamental right for all Americans.

I don't know why I have to explain this.

Posted by: lauren2010 | September 20, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

But, what if one of 14 Courts determine that the PPACA (particularly its IPAB and its "mandate," which even attorneys for the Obama/Pelosi Regime now admit is a tax) is unconstitutional? Wouldn't that make it difficult for the Regime to claim it as an "achievement"?

Lauren2010 above makes a great observation as well: "the new HCR bill does NOT make health insurance/care accessibility a fundamental right for all Americans." In fact, while arguing in Court, the Regime has stated [repeatedly] that Americans have NO fundamental right to health care other than the health care the federal government allows each American to have.

Posted by: rmgregory | September 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

jkaren,

Thanks for your comments. It is an interesting case to be sure. My take is that the government has made dependents out of these people.

If a thief robs a person and then that person robs again to sustain themselves, it remains wrong although the motivation is more understandable, and the root of the problem lies with the original theft. If your entire society is built on this system, it is awfully hard to be the one person being looted and not getting at least part of it back on the other side.

The median household is out of a nest egg worth about $1 million due to FICA by retirement (16-64 median incomes used per 2009 report, 15.3% FICA, 3.75% real return on savings). By definition, half of all households are effectively out more than this amount. A household which only can pull in 1/2 the median income is still out just over $500,000.

In order to maintain their lifestyle, rather than turn to the fruits of their savings, they must accept a handout from the government and the cycle continues.

I once supported a basic income guarantee on a pragmatic basis, though I realized it always saw too little support from the left, always belittled as too small ($12,000 per adult). To the extent there was no real support for a redistributive scheme that is less harmful than the modern welfare state, I decided there was no harm in going another step, to let people keep their own money and live their lives as they see fit, for better or worse. I could not rebut msoja's contention that other people's money is other people's money, period, and that I have no right to take it and redistribute as I see fit - if I could not convince myself msoja's view was wrong, then perhaps I was wrong. Each person has a different view on the best use of funds, and so why not let them decide for themselves with the amount they have earned?

To answer your question, yes, I'll probably take my money back if offered. I certainly wouldn't like the alternative (sending it back to Washington), and either way I'll probably be deeply in the red net of my 'contributions'. That being said, I think the game itself is a sham, and will support any political party which pledges to end the game, whether I am 30, 50 or 70. Likewise, if I lived in a communist state I would be in support of a new system, though I wouldn't refuse the (meager) food and shelter provided through that system.

"i wonder if your tune would change if you had a very ill member of your family, who you loved and worried about, and couldnt get insurance for them?"

Would I think taking from my neighbor okay because suddenly I felt I needed a service I couldn't afford? Well, no, it would still be wrong. Despite the difficult emotional aspect of the situation you describe, my changing emotions do not change right and wrong.

While it leaves open some risk, I'd prefer to keep my own resources, and be responsible for myself and my loved ones.

Posted by: justin84 | September 20, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

"The problem for Republicans is that it would give President Obama a perfect soapbox for talking endlessly about all the benefits of ACA"

Brer Fox, whatever you do, don't talk endlessly about ACA.

"So not only would Republicans look petulant and childish if they repeatedly passed bills that either failed in the Senate or got vetoed"

Not if what they pass is popular and Obama petulantly and childishly vetos
them.

Methinks Kevin Drum is whistling past the graveyard.

Posted by: bgmma50 | September 20, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Close down Obama and his socialist friends
by voting them out of office.
This American has had it with these fools

Posted by: akeegan2 | September 20, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

"While it leaves open some risk, I'd prefer to keep my own resources, and be responsible for myself and my loved ones."

thank you for taking the time to offer such a detailed reply.
it just seems that there are people in our society with such limited resources and compromised circumstances, that they cannot be responsibile for themselves, and those that they love.
and it is up to us, as a society, to make sure, that they also, are okay, and can have a decent life, and receive the care and help that they need.
on the other hand, there are terrible abuses and inequities in the system, that are undeniable.
and yet, on the other hand, there are many people, railing against big government, and taking whatever they can take, and more.
...................as an aside, i just wonder how much money this country can continue to afford to spend, on a huge, aging population.


Posted by: jkaren | September 20, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Klein says "but Obama would spend the entire time talking about how he'll never let the Republican Party take away your right to insurance even if you have a preexisting condition." Another "Ezra" uninformed comment.

The Republicans are all for the commensense portions of the Bill:
extending coverage to children up to 27 years old;
no preexisting conditions;
right to keep your coverage if changing jobs or leaving the work force;
allowing puchase of Health Insurance across state lines(currently not in the Bill);
they are against mandating employers to provide coverage with expensive benefits their employees don't need or want, for instance maternity care when your employees are not of childbearing age(as in the case of our small business)and,
mandating individuals purchase coverage or be fined(increasing the burden on the individual and the IRS)
Requiring small businesses to provide a 1099 to their utility companies, suppliers, landlords and the like, which was only included in the Bill to artificially reduce its cost(read the final scoring of the CBO on cost)
Medical Malpractice reform(currently not in the Bill);
They basically are against creating more Government control. If Medicare Administration had been doing their job, the waste and fraud would already be going down. Has it? or are they just waiting for a new Office to do the job?

The Administration hasn't even looked at reforming the Medicare Administrative process. Poor management of the program is a big waste of money. (I know, I have worked in health care administration for 30 years including VA Hospitals)

Posted by: fedupwithgovernment | September 20, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

justin84: yeah, you may be right, but in that case we also don't really have a "right" to public roadways, or schools, or police protection either. We only universally have those things because society has deemed it so, just as society has determined that we have a right to free speech, and a right to bear arms. Those weren't always the case, but we've come to now accept these as "rights" because they were codified into law by the founders. God didn't decide that people had a right to carry around guns. People came to that conclusion, and they did so for socio-political reasons. But the truth is that every other 1st world nation has also come to the conclusion that universal healthcare is a right of all of its citizens... and yet the richest nation on the world can't provide for its citizen's in the same way, even though it spends twice as much (per capita as a percentage of GDP) on healthcare.

Posted by: SnowleopardNZ | September 21, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights. You can't have happiness if you need healthcare and can't afford it. Therefore, there is a right of health coverage. Q.E.D.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | September 21, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

I suggest many of you have no concept of the interworkings of Health Care and Health Insurance.

I suggest you do some reading on the history of Health Insurance. It was never meant to cover ALL costs. If you want the Government to set up shop and increase taxes across the board to pay for all care, perhaps you should move to Canada or the UK. Just as many can only afford liability coverage on their cars and others carry comprehensivem, individuals can purchase health care coverage that provides basic coverage, hospitalization and vary their premiums based on what they can afford.

If anything, it would be cheaper for the U.S. Government to make all health insurance premiums fully tax deductible for individuals and employers who pay a portion of their employees premiums. Regulate insurance companies by limiting the percentage a policy can increase yearly and the maximum it can increase over the life of the policy. Prexisting conditions should not apply to newborns.

A high risk government plan should be available under medicare at a higher premium then Medicare Part B.

The rest should be covered under medicaid.

Posted by: fedupwithgovernment | September 21, 2010 1:14 AM | Report abuse

Lee,

You have the right to *pursue* happiness - there is no actual right to happiness in the sense of it being provided to you by others. You are free to act in such a manner that promotes your own happiness, consistent with respecting the freedom of others to do the same. In any case, a person diagnosed with a serious illness is likely to be quite unhappy, whether or not they are insured. Likewise, the right to life does not mean the government is doing you an injustice by failing to prevent your death - it means the government/other individuals can't wander over and kill you for arbitrary reasons. Whether the right to life is put into jeopardy by denying that right to others is a question upon which reasonable people can disagree.

Moreover, declaring the right of one individual to health care services forces another individual to provide those services whether they want to or not, which is in direct opposition to liberty.

The right to health care services is created via contract, though no one has the right to take another's property for the purposes of initiating such a contract.

SnowleopardNZ,

You are correct - there is no right to an education or roads or other public goods.

I disagree about the right to guns (which is actually the right to self defense, guns are just a means to that end). The right to life, liberty, property, pursuit of happiness etc. strongly implies that you have the right to self defense if you are attacked.

Of course, maybe Bentham is correct, and rights are nonsense on stilts. That leaves us with no right to anything, though it is still hard to get around why we should accept the government forcibly taking someone's property to give to another, as if this were done by any other entity it would rightly be viewed as theft. While there may be no real "right" to liberty, something seems wrong with the government interfering with your private life when you are minding your own business, or incarcerating you arbitrarily.

I'm just saying that if you believe in the negative rights such as life, liberty, property - whether on a natural law basis or a pragmatic one - quite a bit of government activity logically doesn't follow. You may reject such rights altogether, but then the state has free reign and any freedom you might have can be taken by the state at any time for any reason, and there is no grounds for objection other than you don't happen to like a particular intervention of the state.

Posted by: justin84 | September 21, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

"It's high-risk, and the reward is terribly uncertain."

Which doesn't actually bother crazy people and true believers. To them, it's a feature, not a bug.

Now reference your immediately previous post.

Posted by: pj_camp | September 21, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

"Life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights. You can't have happiness if you need healthcare and can't afford it..." - Lee_A_Arnold

How true. That is the best summary of Obamacare that I have heard. Since passed Obamacare/govermentcare/socialistcare/communistcare will guarantee that people can't afford it because they will regulate the "evil" insurance companies that aren't currently providing for 10-12 million Americans. In other word, Obamacare will ensure (or insure) that the people (the enemies) will not have the right to "the pursuit of happiness." This will be another day when Mrs. Obama is proud of her country.

Posted by: InnocentXIII | September 22, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Justin84: "You have the right to *pursue* happiness - there is no actual right to happiness in the sense of it being provided to you by others... ...forces another individual to provide those services whether they want to or not, which is in direct opposition to liberty" etc. etc.

No, neither way. There is no sense in the Declaration that the founders were only addressing "negative" rights. And there is no stipulation that liberty is to be afforded at the expense of the other two. There is a good deal of current pontification about it, to be sure.

Posted by: Lee_A_Arnold | September 22, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

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