With the end of the shutdown, the Republicans have to open up the playbook and quickly determine what the focus is going to be moving forward into an election year.
Ted Cruz’s 21-hour filibuster of Obamacare, while personally beneficial for his probable presidential run in 2016, never had a chance of achieving anything of substance. Even though the Obamacare “sob stories” were enough to get it passed, the reality of the costs of Obamacare has hit hard for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who lost their insurance due to Obamacare, and the millions of Americans who are forced to buy overpriced insurance on the exchanges because of all of the unnecessary requirements that Obamacare imposes.
Republicans do not need to tie Obamacare to funding the government, spending cuts, debt ceiling discussion, or anything else for that matter. Opposition to Obamacare should be on the principle highlighting the flaws within the entitlement and touting the failure that will come regardless of what is done because the law is indeed a “train wreck.”
The Republicans need to simply advertise the actual costs of Obamacare, running as many scenarios as possible and providing the information. In fact, they can use a Democrat tactic and highlight the individuals who are going bankrupt as they pay more for insurance when they were forced onto the healthcare exchanges, especially for the ones who lost their insurance because of Obamacare.
With the roll-out debacle being what it is, the Democrats are now going to propose delaying the individual mandate. This will require a balancing act. Republicans should not be in a rush to take up the vote – instead focusing on budget and debt ceiling issues, but they cannot simply kill it as Reid did. The other part of this is for the delay to be a short one that expires during the summer of 2014 – at the absolute latest – as Republicans will need to agree to an extension to remain consistent on their stand while not appearing heartless.
Agreeing to anything else would remove Obamacare as an election issue. This is what Republicans have to avoid at all costs. The financial impact of Obamacare is something that every Democrat must be held accountable for (and every Republican challenger can hang around their neck like an albatross.)
The Tea Party Republicans were the driving force behind the victory in 2010. The Republicans have to harness that energy going into the 2014 elections if they want any chance of retaking the Senate while also maintaining their control of the House.
The one victory the Republicans got out of the shutdown was the continuation of the sequester cuts. So, the upcoming budget negotiations have a lowered threshold since Obama and the Democrats are the ones who agreed to the current continuing resolution that included the sequester.
However, it is time for a reality check. Thanks to Obama, the partisan gridlock in Washington will not end during his presidency. He has no intent of allowing it to end. So, the Republicans have to keep that in mind when they enter into “negotiations” with the Democrats.
Republicans need to propose a litany of spending cuts, reductions, and elimination of waste within the federal government to show their support of the Tea Party’s desire for truly limited government. However, the Tea Party Republicans also need to keep in mind that Obama will not allow any of this to actually become law since he is a proponent of “big government.”
So, in the end, this would be nothing more than a dog-and-pony show. However, the Republicans need to take the entire budget/government shutdown angle off the table for the 2014 elections. When January 2014 rolls around, they should extend the current CR for another year, which would make this a non-issue for the upcoming elections.
Obama did a masterful job tying defaulting and raising the debt ceiling as one issue. The reality is that the debt ceiling is about borrowing money for more spending programs that will do nothing to help the Americans who want to work but cannot find a job.
What Obama and the Democrats did during the shutdown is risk defaulting on the debt we already owe so they can borrow more money for spending programs we do not need. (Remember, the debt jumped $328 billion in one day under Obama.)
Now, it would be easy to say the same thing for the debt ceiling as I did for the budget; but the Republicans need to present themselves as the responsible adults in the room who are capable of governing – and not resort to government by tantrum that Obama has elevated to an art form.
The Republicans need to tie Democrat spending to the ever-increasing amount of debt we are incurring and push for either cuts or caps at current levels to show fiscal responsibility. Meanwhile, Paul Ryan – as the in-house Republican expert – needs to do as much campaigning as Obama to explain that increasing the debt ceiling without cutting spending will never correct the issue.
Republicans may have to begrudgingly agree to debt increases, but the Democrats will need to be forced to play this game of brinkmanship on the debt time and time again in the time leading up to the elections, increasing the chances of drawing the ire of Americans who will grow tired of this lack of governance on their part.
If the current polls are any indication, Obamacare and the debt ceiling are the two issues that Americans are overwhelmingly against. Those are the two issues that Republicans need to make the mid-term elections about and force all of the other issues off the front page.
With those two issues serving as the cornerstones, the Republicans may increase their chances of retaking the Senate (while maintaining control of the House) and put Obama in a box for the last two years of his presidency.
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