Exhibition Games

In a Wasson/Hooper article in The Hill discussing the House GOP leadership’s strategy on appropriations (they’ve now delayed by a week a vote on a “clean”–sic!–CR accompanied by an Obamacare “defunding” measure the Senate would be expected to kill with or without a filibuster coming first) was this interesting quote from Tea Party member Tim Huelskamp:

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said the roughly 40 votes the House has taken so far to end the healthcare law were like exhibition games.

“We’ve never put it on truly must-pass legislation,” he complained.

Leaders can only afford 16 defections on their plan, which would presumably need to be passed without any Democratic votes. Huelskamp and others vowed to vote against the rule for consideration of the bill unless they were given the chance to amend the core CR text with defunding language.

So this would be the real deal, eh?

I’ve wondered about this before, but I still don’t get the sense birds like Hueselkamp understand that nearly all Democrats, including the one in the White House, would see him in Hell before they’d agree to a “defunding” of Obamacare, or even the “full one-year delay” the House GOP leadership seems to think is some sort of viable compromise. They can imagine all they want that the only reason they aren’t in a position to nullify not only the Affordable Care Act but the last two presidential elections is their wimpy RINO leadership. But if they get their way within the GOP, they are going to find out they aren’t the only people in politics with “principles.” Yes, Democrats aren’t remotely as fanatical as conservative Republicans, and sure, Obama and congressional Democrats have “caved” on this or that issue before. But not on this one, buddy, not after all the compromises already made to create an architecture for universal access to health care.

I don’t want to see the federal government shut down any more than the next progressive. But at some point, “the base” of the Republican Party needs to learn that sticking with The Crazy to and beyond the gates of delirium won’t get them everything they want in life, and this is as good an opportunity as any for that particular teachable moment.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.