Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Question for Conservatives

Might as well ask it, since it's been a controversy for the week: do you want Republicans to shut down the government unless the Senate agrees to pass and Barack Obama agrees to sign a bill to keep the government functioning into the new fiscal year that "defunds" Obamacare?


  1. No, shutting down the government would be very foolish; it is the one thing that could result in Republicans losing control of the House in 2014. If we play our cards right and avoid any Democratic wave elections, we should be able to control the House until 2022, when the next round of redistricting occurs. That will allow Republicans to ensure that discretionary spending grows at a rate below the inflation rate, and to reduce federal spending significantly as a percentage of GDP, which is the core conservative domestic policy goal. We lost the vote on Obamacare in 2010, we do not have the political power to overturn that loss with control of only half the legislative branch, and shutting down the government over this issue will play very poorly with swing voters. So we should not do that.

  2. No, it would be incredibly stupid and short-sighted. It's not like doing that would "kill" Obamacare anyway, which the people advocating this should know.

    The last chance to do that before implementation was last fall and we lost. As Krauthammer (and anonymous above!) say, you can't govern with one half of one branch of government.

    Of course "We can't kill it with one half of one branch of government" is a lot less sexy than "#SurrenderCaucus".

  3. I'm not sure. As JamesinCa said on the other thread, a short shutdown wouldn't disrupt anything, and its hard to imagine anything other than a short shutdown. We've discussed Republican obfuscation wrt Obamacare a lot back here, and because we are mostly liberals, we see it in the context of unprecedented obstruction to the law of the land. Another point of view:

    Another (lesser) discussion point is that the ACA relies, arguably critically so, on compliance from entities (i.e. firms and young healthy individuals), who - lacking a strong incentive - probably wouldn't comply. The ACA doesn't have strong incentives, but its supporters fiat compliance anyway.

    You know what fiat compliance in economic planning is reminiscent of? Gosplan, the old Soviet central planning model, in which economic inputs were assumed to do critical tasks because the planners needed them to, though the inputs didn't want to, so they didn't, and the whole thing eventually fell apart. Compliance with the ACA mandates, both individual and employer, has a bit of that central planning, gosplan feel.

    To finish the thought: if there were an opposition party to the Kremlin at the height of the Soviet era, how would we expect them to respond to the irrationalities of Gosplan? They would go to the people and say "The central planners think you should do this, but you don't want to, so don't". That's obvious, no?

    Isn't that (roughly) how the Republicans are reacting to Obamacare? It may be exceptionally dirty tricks, but they're (indirectly) going after the dubiousness of fiat compliance in the ACA, which as a tactic is far from insane. The guess here is that everyone knows that, including the Dems in the beltway, and so a short shutdown framed on Obamacare griping could thus be very effective for the GOP.

    1. Look, if the present penalties for lack of compliance are strong enough, there are lots of alternatives to them that would work.

      Here in Switzerland, if you don't buy a policy, the local government selects one for you, and sends you a bill with your income tax. If you don't pay, the penalties are exactly the same as failure to pay income tax, ie pretty severe. People prefer to select their own policies, so this comes up only very, very rarely.

      You don't need companies to participate in the system at all. In fact, having lived with employer-sponsored care in the US and with individually selected policies elsewhere, I feel strongly that the reliance on employer-sponsored insurance is one of the key things that is wrong in the US system.

    2. if the present penalties for lack of compliance are not strong enough, there are lots of alternatives to them that would work.

      Let's have 'em!


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