Paul Ryan and Obamacare: Can he stop Ted Cruz's government shutdown?
Rep. Paul Ryan said Sunday that he opposes a government shutdown to stop the implementation of Obamacare. But Sen. Ted Cruz and others in the GOP might be using a different calculus.
Mark is deputy national news editor for the Monitor.
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Speaking on CBS's "Face the Nation," Representative Ryan said he was not in favor of shutting down the government as a way of forcing Democrats to repeal President Obama's health-care law – a political tactic some Republicans, such as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have advocated. Instead, he said "there are more effective ways of achieving that goal" – though he was not asked to name any.
What is remarkable about the debate is that Democrats aren't going to repeal Obamacare. Ever. Nor does the Republican Party have any conceivable political lever to make them do so. A government shutdown will not defund Obamacare, nor will it likely change anyone's opinion about it.
And yet many Republicans are undaunted – and with good reason.
More than the debt-ceiling debate of 2011 or this year's angst over the sequester, the current talk of resorting to a government shutdown to defund Obamacare speaks to the changing character of Capitol Hill.
What has changed is the calculus of congressional politics.
The legislative process has always been about numbers. Generally, the numbers that have meant most are vote counts – does a bill have the votes to pass? Party leaders were voter-herders – astute in measuring support for a bill and sometimes artful in their ability to navigate it to passage – and their party whips helped make sure the cattle stayed in line.
There are those in Congress who still play by these rules, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky among them. But the new breed of legislator puts a different number first.
Senator Cruz hinted at this new math in speaking about repealing Obamacare to Young Americans for Liberty in Arlington, Va., Wednesday.