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Republicans see shutdown fight shift away from 'Obamacare'

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With their leadership clinging to its strategy of demanding changes to the health care law, some rank-and-file Republicans acknowledged Saturday that ending the U.S. government shutdown requires a new game plan.

Without question, a repeal or delay of the law known as "Obamacare" remains a top priority for Republican lawmakers, who for weeks have insisted on making any bill that funds government contingent on rolling back President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

But a handful of Tea Party-supported conservatives have publicly backed off that fight, one which caused deep rifts within the Republican Party and led to some very public sniping among Republicans on the Senate floor.

With the shutdown battle being subsumed by debate over the need to raise the debt ceiling in the next two weeks, they said the focus needs to shift to strictly fiscal issues.

"I won't be happy with that but I recognize the writing on the wall," congressman Doug Lamborn told reporters during a rare weekend session for the House of Representatives.

"We've tried a lot of things, and maybe used every arrow in our quiver against Obamacare. It has not been successful, so I think we do have to move on to the larger issues of the debt ceiling and the overall budget."

That is no small admission from the man National Journal named in 2010 as the most conservative member of the House.

He was joined by congressman Dennis Ross, another favorite of the anti-tax, pro-small-government Tea Party movement.

"Pride, I think, has got to be swallowed here, probably on both sides," Ross said.

"We're so close to the debt ceiling that I think the two will continue to be combined as we go forward."

The U.S. Treasury says it will run out of money to pay creditors on Oct 17, triggering a potentially calamitous default unless Congress votes to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.

Despite the approaching crisis, Republican leadership suggested Saturday that "Obamacare" remained the lynchpin in the party's strategy.

"The Republican position has continued to be, no special treatment under the law, no special treatment under Obamacare," number two House Republican Eric Cantor said.

The White House has held firm that it will accept no changes to the Affordable Care Act, and Ross appeared frustrated with his party's failure to adapt to the political reality that linking Obamacare with the funding of government would be a non-starter.

"I think expectations were built up to a level that could not be delivered," he said.

Some conservatives were refusing to budge.

"We have to get something on Obamacare," congressman Jim Jordan told Bloomberg TV on Friday.

"If you want to get this country on a fiscal path to balance, you can not let an entitlement of this size that will truly bankrupt the country and, more importantly, one that's not going to help Americans with their health care. You can't let this happen."

The Tea Party flank has been criticized by Democrats like Senate Majority Harry Reid as legislative "anarchists" gunning for a shutdown.

"We are not a bunch of hard-headed fools," said Republican congressman Blake Farenthold.

"If we can come up with ways to fix the economy and get the same bang for the buck you would get with Obamacare, let's do it," he added, saying he envisioned negotiations on tax and entitlement reform in the debt limit fight.

"The Obamacare battle I think will live to be fought another day."

Republicans and senior aides say they want to extract some concessions for raising the debt ceiling, such as matching the debt ceiling hike with dollar-for-dollar reductions in federal spending.

"Not a blank check to the president. That's not in the cards," Lamborn warned.

As Americans steam over Congress's inability to keep government open, some Republicans were seeking an escape hatch, to the point of even bucking leadership.

Two-term congressman Scott Rigell told AFP he wanted to see Republican "individual members who perhaps are not in leadership, to identify in advance some solution set" that could draw enough bipartisan support for reopening government and raising the debt ceiling.

"If that comes from leadership, wonderful. If it comes from more grass roots, that may be needed."

© (C) 2013 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Republicans and senior aides say they want to extract some concessions for raising the debt ceiling, such as matching the debt ceiling hike with dollar-for-dollar reductions in federal spending.

Ah, I thought the ObamaCare angle was too good to be true. They're just choosing a new hostage is all. World financial markets are still not safe from The Tea Party.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

'“We are not a bunch of hard-headed fools,” said Republican congressman Blake Farenthold.'

Ummm... yes, you are. Or perhaps not so much hard headed as you are morons.

"...one which caused deep rifts within the Republican Party and led to some very public sniping among Republicans on the Senate floor."

Need further proof of how the Republican ideology desperately needs to change? They cannot even agree amongst themselves on anything.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

"...a new game plan."

Hey, there are plenty of ways to hurt people and the economy.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Pressure is producing insightful comments. Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), for example, blends hope with delusion:

I think now it’s a lot about pride.

On the other hand, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) blends reality with exasperation:

You can’t say, OK, you get half of Obamacare—this isn’t a Solomonic decision. So we sit here until they figure out they f'kn’ lost.

Sorry, Dennis, but it isn't about pride; it's about the Constitution. Failing to lift the debt ceiling will require Obama to break the law whatever he does: he could ignore Congressionally-mandated spending, or he can violate the 14th amendment. Dennis, your pride is just about to be Con-stitutionallized.

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Laguna: It's pretty clear that the Constitution isn't doing much for people, even with your claims about it being broken. The Republicans have been spitting on it for years, be it through illegal invasions or shut-downs. You can't start preaching now about how wrong it would be if not followed to the letter. It seems about time that constitution be revised on modern parchment and then the old flushed down the toilet. And if you disagree with me, I hope you keep in mind your comments towards Dennis about 'pride'.

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Right, Smith - but that isn't going to happen this month. What will happen is that Congressional Democrats stand firm, and the GOP is left with nada. We'll see if their party can survive such a complete defeat.

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The 14th Amendment's fourth clause must be taken within the historical context in which it was written. It's woefully ignorant to do otherwise.

Some on the left say that this gives the President the authority to raise the debt ceiling on his own(as Clinton also thought to empower himself). Or, put another way, that it means that congressional debt ceilings are unconstitutional. But that’s a rather bizarre interpretation. Nobody questions that Congress controls appropriations, and that the President cannot spend without Congress. So it follows that if Congress says “no more spending” (or “no more borrowing”) that the President cannot borrow or spend more.

The idea that the President could ignore Congress and authorize trillions of dollars of new borrowing for the country is ridiculous.

But the 14th amendment does have a role to play in the national debt debate. Rather than meaning that the President can ignore Congress’ statutory borrowing limits, what it means is that if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling the President cannot, by law, default.

That’s been the oft-issued threat from the left about the debt ceiling. If it’s not raised America will default. In fact, “default” is exactly the term used in the media to describe the August 2nd,2011 line-in-the-sand drawn by the Obama administration.

But per the 14th amendment, the national debt cannot be questioned. So if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the President must continue to make payments on the national debt drawing funds from other areas of spending if need be.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

So, let's see if I've got this right. The GOP has shutdown the government basically because of the Affordable Care Act, right? (Obamacare) I mean, I have time and time again heard it's leaders (the GOP) say so themselves. So they have taken this action, further damaging the American people because they believe that tens of millions of Americans do not deserve quality healthcare. That's what it adds up to, to me anyway. Nice shot, GOP !

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The 14th Amendment's fourth clause must be taken within the historical context in which it was written. It's woefully ignorant to do otherwise.

Cool! Let me file that tidbit away, Jean, for the next time we have a disagreement about the Second Amendment.

Conversely, your suggestion that this is an historical anachronisim is off-base. The 14th Amendment was originally a tool to prevent the defeated South from preventing repayment to those who had defeated them. Really, Jean, considering the demographics of those causing the current crisis, can it not be said that this is a most just application of the amendment?

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Jean baby,

"That’s been the oft-issued threat from the left about the debt ceiling."

The only threat about the debt ceiling is coming from your domestic terrorists that make up the tea party .

Talking the hated reality about the consequences of a US default can only be deemed a threat if you're a deranged anarchist.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Then-Senator Barack Obama's exact words regarding the desire by the Bush administration to raise the debt limit in 2006 were, ". . . raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Psssssst, Jean;

Something none of the radicals seem to grasp is that raising the debt ceiling is not additional spending but funds to pay the bills you have already rung up.

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And he had a good point, Jean - but think about the circumstances. Every party allows junior members to rail against reality as a way to make their mark, but they then pass this illogical piece of legislation because it is the only logical thing to do. Congress creates the budget and thus the deficit; for them to charge the president to execute the former without giving lattitude on the latter is simply illogical. The time and place for this discussion is not at the point of causing a global financial crisis, though. After all, deficits spring from an excess of spending equally as from a deficiency of taxation - but you won't hear Republicans consider the latter.

Now is not the time to deal with this. Pass the CR, raise the debt ceiling, and discuss the rest later.

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It should only be about Obamacare, and the focus should be on the Obama administration`s scorched earth policy. But wth the press acting as the PR arm of the democrat party, this (as usually) an lopsided fight.

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Pssssst madverts, raising the debt ceiling only enables more profligate spending.

Laguna, " Now is not the time to deal with this." Neither was last year, nor the years before? It's an endless game of kick-the-can. Re:Sen Obama's quote, that excuse doesn't fly. One of those flip-flops pols are infamous for.

What you're seeing is the result of decades of bad economic policy a la Keynes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Jean,

"raising the debt ceiling only enables more profligate spending."

No, it enables the US government to meet it's repayment obligations for monies already spent. Really, is it that hard to grasp? Some of these debts were incurred when Barrack Obama was still sporting an afro.

You bring up 2006 and George W Bush raising the debt ceiling and I retort with the astronomic cost of his wars and tax cuts during a recession that have yet to be paid for, the spiral of debt that started with Nixon and includes profligacy from both parties incurred over a forty year period. To somehow blame Obama for it is the height of ignorance.

Hikes in the debt ceiling - without any political demands from the opposition party - had been routine until President Obama took office.

Juan Williams

From this point on if you continue refuse this remedial mathematical reality, I'm not sure you're qualified to join the debt ceiling debate - well, unless your audience are simply other tea party radicals.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Article I, Section 8, Clause 2 says that the Congress has the power to borrow money on the credit of the United States. Notice, however, that it is "Congress" that has that authority. . . which brings us back to the 14th Amendment.

Article 1, Section 1 grants all legislative powers to Congress. Article I, Section 7 grants the authority to originate bills for raising revenue solely to the House of Representatives. Article I, Section 8, Clause 2 gives the power to borrow money to the Congress.

The liberal democrats claim that the "validity of the public debt. . . shall not be questioned," even by Congress, and they are trying to use the 14th Amendment to support that claim. The original intent of that provision, and the authorities granted by the Constitution in other sections, says otherwise.

This is, as always, an attempt by the statists to grab more power, even if they have to lie, and twist the Constitution, to do so.

Personally, I think the debt ceiling is a ridiculous concept. If the federal government only spent our money in a Constitutional manner, federal spending would only be about 5% of the GDP. In the late 1800s, it was between three and four percent of the GDP. Then, a limit wouldn't be necessary, because the spending would be within reason, and constitutionality.

Giving the President carte blanche on federal spending is not the way to go, based on the Constitution, and common sense. Spending is the problem, not revenue. The question is, when will we, and our representatives, take a queue from the Constitution, and demand that our money be spent in only a Constitutional manner?

Madverts, please refrain from employing such a derogatory attitude.

The US is able to service her debts, so far, but the real problem is spending. There hasn't been a budget approved since before 2008. And the debt has ballooned, doubled in size since then as well. Do you really deny that? Time to smell the coffee, my friend.

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"There hasn't been a budget approved since before 2008"

Heh, since Obama was elected and the GOP and it's Tea Party radicals made it their stated number one goal of scuppering Obama's presidency?

Good point.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

On Thursday Mark Levin cited several Congressional sources who have told him that Obama has no intention of negotiating with Congress on the debt, which is just under $17 trillion, the highest in U.S. history. When unfunded liabilities such as Social Security and Medicare are added in, the real debt is over $125 trillion -- a figure so astronomically high that the country has no hope of ever paying it back. Uncontrolled spending has led the nation to this point.

According to Levin, Congressional sources say that Obama does not want any limits on his spending ability, in spite of the fact that the Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to control spending. Further, the use of the 14th Amendment to bypass Congress has never been done before. Thus, such an act would be an entirely new "interpretation" of the 14th Amendment and would raise a plethora of Constitutional issues concerning separation of powers.

The 14th Amendment is written in several main sections, one of which deals with debts incurred by the federal government. Nowhere does the Amendment give a president the power to raise the debt ceiling. Nowhere does the Amendment mandate that overall federal spending be increased at the whim of a president, or anyone else in government, not even Congress.

The only mandate contained in the 14th Amendment regarding the national debt is that if the government runs out of money, the interest and principal on Treasury Notes, Bills, and Bonds, must be paid first before money is spent on anything else.

This means, simply, that the federal government must first make payments on the national debt before it funds anything else. Nothing is stated concerning raising the debt ceiling and borrowing more money, and certainly not spending more money in the middle of a debt crisis.

Thus, the use of the 14th Amendment to excuse such actions on Obama's part would be illegal and an impeachable offense. Yet he is being urged, according to Levin, to break the law by advisers inside and outside of government, such as Bill Clinton, Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, liberal law professors, and members of liberal think tanks.

If that advice via Clinton is followed, it may just be a legitimate way for Slick Willy to get the "amateur" ousted. Go for it, then.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Jean, I still don't really know what your plan is. Should the US default? Should the US suddenly and drastically reduce government spending while not defaulting?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thus, such an act would be an entirely new "interpretation" of the 14th Amendment and would raise a plethora of Constitutional issues concerning separation of powers.

Oh, yes - your copy-paste does not even do justice to the plethora of sh!t that will hit the fan as the self-immolation of the Republican right reaches its conclusion. As mentioned previously, the president is required by law to execute the will of Congress - and that will, until specifically altered, is contained in various specific spending bills (I.e.,those funding the Pentagon) and entitlements, which would require a specific act of Congress to change. You are correct that the GOP is forcing America to confront some very awkward dissonance in its legal code, but do not expect that this clarification will help the Republicans in any way. O

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The whole situation is a farce designed to scare the USA taxpayers. There is no real shutdown. The parks are closed, NASA PR sites aren't available, but the IRS collects and continue to find tax cheats. Money flows to the treasury no matter what happens in Congress so that the members can continue to waste it.

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but the IRS collects and continue to find tax cheats. Money flows to the treasury no matter what happens in Congress so that the members can continue to waste it.

That IRS inflow money isn't nearly enough to cover the government expenses - otherwise they wouldn't be in a deficit. So they still have to shut parts of the government down (it was never a total shutdown of course).

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