The time is now for Democrats and the Left to stop blaming the GOP for the ongoing federal shutdown. Top Democrats have laid the shutdown (or, to be more precise, the closure of 17 percent of the national government) at the feet of Republican “jihadists,” “blackmailers,” “terrorists,” “extortionists,” “anarchists,” and “arsonists.”
Such overheated left-wing rhetoric is hardly conducive to the cool breezes of bipartisan consensus. Regardless, Democrats could argue with straight faces that GOP insistence on defunding Obamacare triggered the shutdown, now in its 14th day.
However, the revolutionary fires of House Republicans have grown rather brisk as autumn sets in. They have moved from initial calls to defund Obamacare, then to delay it, and now to make it fairer — by ending the subsidies that congressional staffers would enjoy under Obamacare.
The House has passed at least 20 measures that would re-open the government fully or partially without defunding Obamacare. The House Republican Study Committee’s Shutdown Tracker details these bills and is an outstanding resource for those who want to learn how the House GOP has proposed compromise after compromise, only to be rebuffed by stubborn Senate Democrats who either vote them down or simply refuse to consider them. G. W. Bush, “Mr. My Way or the Highway,” has nothing on the closed minds of the Democratic Senate.
Any doubt about the Republicans being reasonable in this situation should have evaporated completely over the weekend.
Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine) stepped forward with her own plan. She is no tea partier, by any stretch. Collins is as centrist as Republicans get. If the Smithsonian ever opens a Museum of Moderate Republicanism, bet your next rent or mortgage check that it will include a prominent, artifact-filled Susan Collins Wing. Her 48.85 percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union places her solidly on the broken yellow line that defines the middle of the political road.
Collins’ plan could not have been milder:
Re-open the federal government immediately
Increase the national-debt ceiling until January 31, 2014
Fund the federal government for six months
Delay ObamaCare’s medical-device tax for two years
Verify that those who want Obamacare subsidies qualify for them.
Let agencies prioritize spending, so long as they obey budget-sequester limits
Collins’ pitch offered plenty to please Obama and Democrats.
ObamaCare would survive and be funded without interruption. Federal operations would continue until next summer, and Uncle Sam could return to meddling in every aspect of American life until the eve of Black History Month.
Republicans would score modestly for all of their troubles.
There would be a pause in — but no end to — the medical-device tax. The Washington Free Beacon calculates that this 2.3 percent levy on the gross receipts of device companies (even those without profits) already has killed 8,892 jobs at Abbott Laboratories, Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and other pain-easing, life-saving corporations. While Collins could have argued for killing this life-threatening tax, she was happy to postpone it for 24 months.
Collins’ idea of ensuring that Obamacare’s subsidies only reached those who actually qualify for them was not some cold, cruel, heartless notion from Ted Cruz’s darkest fantasies. Collins simply wanted to restore the letter of the law. The (un)Affordable Care Act required confirmation that only those eligible received subsidies. And then Obama unilaterally ruled by decree that Washington should spend the first year of Obamacare giving such cash to everyone who asked for it, without proof that their incomes so entitled them. If Donald Trump applied for Obamacare subsidies from deep inside his luxurious home at Trump Tower, Obamacare subsidies he would get — until 2015.
Giving agencies more flexibility on spending would allow, for instance, the FAA to spend money on air-traffic control before devoting its budget to diversity training. This would prevent Obama from threatening once again to furlough flight controllers, as he despicably did when the sequester began. The sequester, please recall, was not some far-right concoction that sprang from the fever swamps of the Cato Institute or even Heritage Action. As liberal hero Bob Woodward of the uber-mainstream-media organ the Washington Post clearly documents, the sequester emerged from the mind of Obama.
So, what happened?
On Saturday, Harry Reid hurled ice water all over Collins’s initiative. As the Nevada Democrat said: “The plan that I’ve seen in writing is not going to go any place at this stage.”
And that was that.
So, far from remaining shut because of the intransigence of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, or Michele Bachman, the federal government is padlocked because Obama, Harry Reid, and a majority of Democrats would rather keep Washington in limbo than spare jobs from the medical-device tax or prevent fraud in Obamacare.
Remember that the next time the Left breathes fire about Republican “arsonists.”