A Guide to the Budget Battle Propaganda

House Republicans have decided to try to use the budget process to defund Obamacare, and this has made American liberals very angry indeed.  Their commentary on the situation is, however, highly self-serving.

House Republicans have passed a measure that will temporarily fund the government but that includes no funding for the Affordable Care Act.  For this liberal politicians and journalists have condemned them as “hostage takers.”  They use this expression so commonly, even uniformly, that you have to suspect that a memo was circulated instructing them to talk this way.  Probably this did happen at some point, but is now no longer necessary, since the habit has become ingrained.

But saying something repeatedly does not make it accurate or fair.  Is it really necessary to point out that this kind of rhetoric is abusive to (and past) the point of absurdity?  A hostage taker is doing a criminal act.  The House Republicans are, in contrast, exercising a perfectly legitimate power.  The Constitution gives the House the authority to originate spending bills, and they have now originated one that pays for everything that everybody agrees on, but not the thing that is disputed.  Liberals have every right to disagree with the House, but they can’t really condemn it as acting thuggishly except on the theory that any exercise of power is illegitimate that keeps liberals from getting what they want.


It gets worse: the charge of hostage taking is groundless, but if it is going to be made, it could just as easily be made against the Democratic senate or the president.  The senate Democrats say they won’t accept any spending measure that doesn’t fund Obamacare.  Similarly, the president says he will veto any spending measure that doesn’t fund Obamacare.  In other words, they are willing to stop all government spending if they don’t get their way.  They are just as much hostage takers as the House GOP.

The other charge liberals make against the House GOP is that they are a bunch of “extremists.”  This is a very common and a very useless complaint in politics.  It does not serve, and it is not intended, to enlighten the discussion of any issue on its merits.  All it means is: “most people disagree with what you say, so you must be wrong.”  This is not exactly a model of rational discourse.  Nevertheless, to the extent that it means anything, it is hard to see how it could apply to the House Republicans on this issue.  They are opposing Obamacare, which is by every measure an unpopular law.  A majority of Americans opposed it when it passed, and they have continued to oppose it since.  Say what you want about it, but it is hard to see how representing public opinion on this matter is an act of extremism.

This brings me to a final point about who is really behaving badly in this situation.  Critics will say that the Republicans are grandstanding, because they should know that the president will never accept a funding measure that defunds Obamacare.  But why won’t he?  Ask the in-the-know, inside-the-beltway commentators, and they will say something like this: the president cannot be expected to go along with a defunding or delay, much less the repeal, of the Affordable Care Act, because it is his “signature legislative achievement.”  Put that in plain language and it means that the president will not go along with the neutering of an unpopular law because of personal and/or political vanity.  Why is that to pass without comment while the House Republicans are vilified for not voting to fund what they disagree with and won office disagreeing with?



  • Hank

    Nancy Pelosi bribed certain legislator to vote for the bill using our money, Legal????

    How many legislators voted for a bill they did not read and were ignorant of its content. Is this ethical? I feel they should be fired. Just remember NP’s statement, “You must pass the law to know what is in it.” Dors that sound logical?

  • Will

    Where was, and is, a Republican plan to provide heath coverage to those without it? How about some moderate politics? We used to have common goals and interests, even if we disagreed on how to get there.

    • Isabella


      I’ve heard several different ones pitched by various members of congress but here is one alternative. You just need to search the news or ask any republican senator and they’d be happy to fill you in, honestly.

      • Will

        I do no see the plan at bloomberg.com as taking care of all of those in need. My congressman is a Libertarian/Republican who wants to balance the budget and cut anything that stands in the way. He does not care about minor details, such as healthcare.

  • Jeff

    This posting is the single most intellectually dishonest argument I have ever seen.

    Let’s deal with each other straight, okay? You don’t like Obamacare? Submit a bill in Congress that repeals it. If it passes the House, then the Senate, and is then signed by the President, it will be repealed. Acknowledge that we need to avoid a government shutdown, and extend the debt limit to prevent an economic calamity? Submit a bill in Congress that extends the budget resolution and/or extends the nation’s credit authority, and vote on it.

    But that won’t work, will it? Our republican form of democracy (representatives elected and exercising majority rule) won’t support a repeal of Obamacare, won’t it? Okay, so let’s force the democratically elected houses of Congress to either save the country from economic ruin or pass a effective repeal of the law that the majority of our elected representatives (House, Senate and executive) opposes, but not both. In any definition of the term, that is called extortion. It’s a tactic of terrorists and gangsters.

    Here is the bottom line: in our republic, elections matter. The majority will of the people’s elected representatives prevails. We’ve had five elections of the people’s representatives (two House elections–2010 and 2012, two Senate elections–2010 and 2012, and a presidential election–2012) since Obamacare was passed. In every one of those elections for every federal elected official, the issue of Obamacare has been raised, discussed and debated. The people have elected their representatives. The majority of the elected officials rules. If a bill to repeal Obamacare is passed and signed, then the republic says yes to your position. If a bill to repeal Obamacare does not pass, then the republic says no to your position. Either way, accept the republic’s choice and move on.

    Elections matter.

    But, “No,” the minority says. Instead, let’s put a proverbial gun to the head of the majority of the elected representatives to enact a minority position, or force economic calamity to happen. That is extortion. That is “gaming” the electoral system. That is political cowardliness. That is a disingenuous and dishonest rejection of the democratic and republican principles and system of governance our founders created.

    If that is your tactic, just be honest about it and say, “We will game the system if the system will not accomplish our objectives.”

    Democracy and majority rule: They sound great, until they result in you not getting what you want.

    Look, we can debate all day about whether the American people support Obamacare or hate it. For every poll that says they hate it, there is one that says they like it; for every poll that says people believe anything called “Obamacare” is bad, there is one that says if you describe its provisions without calling it “Obamacare” people overwhelmingly support it. But none of this is the relevant point.

    The point is: we are a republic, not a direct democracy. We don’t all vote on every issue of public concern. We elect representatives to do our voting for us. We trust them with our vote, with getting informed about complex issues, and we even accept that no one we elect will vote the way we want every time. And we accept that some times people we don’t vote for get elected. We accept that sometimes we are in the minority, and that has consequences, and we consent to live with those consequences.

    I have some real problems with Obamacare. I think it was well-intended (to help people who are sick, to prevent people from dying who could be saved with health care, to prevent needless pain and suffering, to avoid financial ruin of people and families who get sick or injured, and to keep the health care insurance system in the private sector), but it has a lot of problems, some small and some huge.

    But it was passed and signed, on its own merits, in full accordance with the rules of our republic. No threats of calamity and national financial ruin were used to extort GOP votes to support it. It was passed straight up–on its merits–majority rules.

    So if it is broke, fix it. Or if it is unfixable, repeal it. Put it to a vote in each house and accept the decision our republican system makes. But don’t threaten to drive our economic car off the cliff unless the passengers in the car agree to change the radio to a station you want, and then as the car is falling to a unnecessary crash, blame the passengers for the crash because they wouldn’t change the station to your liking. Respect the process, honor our democratic elections, and accept “no” for an answer when the answer our system is “no.”

    No tricks, no extortions. Trust and accept elections, and vote any repeal of this law up or down. To do otherwise causes a far worse crime than keeping Obamacare on the books: it disrespects our democracy and our republic, and tells our fellow citizens that their vote for our representatives only counts when it is consistent with our vote or otherwise we will blackmail their elected representatives.

  • Jason R

    I fund it fascinating that Democrats oppose using the budget process to defund/defeat a very unpopular bill…when Democrats used the Reconciliation Process (also a budget process) to pass it in the first place. Hypocritical much?

  • Dennis

    Polls are both sided on this issue. The polls from the liberals show overwhelming support for the Affordable Care Act by the masses. The polls from the conservatives show moderate opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Which polls do you believe?

    Yes there are some bad points to the affordable care act but it much better overall than the nothing that we had in the past. Common sense would put those disagreeing with sections of it making amendments to improve it rather than throwing everything out and leaving America with nothing again.

    It took America over 30 years to get to this point on a Heath care bill. The big fear is if it is repealed in its entirety will it take another 20 years to get anything again? Or will we ever have fair heath care for all American citizens ever approved again.

    • Mike

      The Republican viewpoint on many things, including healthcare, is “Life is not fair. Suck it up!” Access to healthcare has never been fair, but it has gotten to the point where it is ridiculously expensive even for basic indispensable care, like say for pregnancy. Instead of fixing that problem, Obamacare makes sure that your contraception will be paid for…which is one of the valid reasons Republicans have for disliking it.


      Let me add to what Dennis writes that the major problem with the conservative opposition to the ACA is that their only alternative was to labor along with the existing system which the majority of Americans believe isn’t working and causes needless human suffering. Bear in mind that until Obama care came along pregnancy was a preexisting condition. Yes, the law has faults but really, the Republicans in congress want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • breidenc

      We had the option of healthcare insurance before Obamacare was instituted. If it is in fact repealed, we will still have a market place for insurance because people will need it, and people will buy it. This apocalyptic talk is utterly inane.
      The point of government is not settle with what was done in the past. It is to settle with what should be done rightly. Sometimes what is done in the past is right. Sometimes not. That is what dialogue, discussion and debate are for. But this complaint that we had nothing before, and that the Republicans are fighting to go back to nothing is baseless.
      Moreover, what doesn’t get a lot of press time from our MSM is the alternative plans which do not inhibit the freedom of the average citizen, and which offers greater abilities for them in obtaining insurance. It is time to broaden your thinking horizon.

  • Chris

    Exactly right.



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