Senator Ted Cruz has been on a publicity tour this week to lay the foundation for August town hall meetings where he's hoping to generate a groundswell of support for holding funding hostage for the ACA. That video is from his appearance at the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, now run by Jim DeMint.
This is Cruz' last stand, it seems. The problem is, he can't actually do what he's trying to do. I know you will be as shocked as I was to discover that Cruz is making promises he cannot keep, because the bulk of the funding for the Affordable Care Act does not come from discretionary funds. Yes, folks, it's true. Republicans are lying to their base about Obamacare.
In other words, even if Cruz successfully whips up a frenzy of support for a government shutdown over the ACA, the ACA will be funded anyway. Sen. Tom Coburn has already figured this part out.
"It appears that substantial ACA implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations that resulted in a temporary government shutdown," CRS analysts concluded.
For one, Health and Human Services would be able to rely on "sources of funding other than annual discretionary appropriations to support implementation activities, including multiple-year and non-year discretionary funds still available for obligation as well as mandatory funds."
A quick refresher on mandatory funds: These are billions in federal dollars that were appropriated by the Affordable Care Act and can't be touched without repealing Obamacare itself.... Other Obamacare programs that the CRS doesn't believe a shutdown would stop include the federal health insurance marketplace, the state-based insurance marketplaces and the individual mandate. Otherwise known as the most significant portions of the Affordable Care Act.
In typical right-wing fashion, Senators Cruz, Rubio and Mike Lee stuck their fingers in their ears and sang la-la-la when confronted with this reality. Rather than actually deal with it, they're doubling down on the "stir the masses" strategy and raising expectations with their base, which could backfire on them all in a big way.
But the problem is that Boehner has continued to defer that epic confrontation that the hard-liners continue to hope for — the one that will finally result in the ultimate Obama capitulation that is always just around the corner. And given that today’s GOP is organized to a great degree around the notion that Obamacare’s destruction was supposed to be inevitable — House Dems today put out a memo detailing 10 ways Republicans are trying to undermine the law — it really may come to pass that all bets are off this time. After all, Senator Cruz is explicitly telling people that the current defunding push is the last chance to stop Obamacare before it becomes “a permanent feature of the American economy,” adding to the urgency here.
By holding countless repeal votes, and by continuing to insist Republicans will continue targeting the law for elimination, Boehner and other GOP leaders are only keeping alive the hope that Obamacare will be destroyed before it becomes part of the American landscape. A handful of Republican Senators are trying to talk some sense into their colleagues before it’s too late, arguing that staging an Obamacare-defunding shutdown is deeply misguided and dangerous. But it’s anyone’s guess who will prevail.
The epic confrontation referred to there is the one between more moderate factions of the GOP and John Boehner, who has a decent approval rating with Tea Partiers even as his overall approval rating sinks to 18 percent.
The Groundswell group considered Obamacare one of the primary fronts in its 30-front war, and Ted Cruz was their Anointed One to carry the message. When you see Cruz speaking at Heritage, or at FreedomWorks, or at Americans for Prosperity or on Fox News about this, it is because the players in Groundswell are pushing hard for his message to be out in the mainstream. They are all participants in this coalition, which is not just an email discussion group, but a high-level effort to coordinate action across the nation.
Back in March, Rep. Jim Bridenstine's communications director sent around a missive affirming the Congressman's full support for Cruz' efforts and noting that the same email would go to national and state bloggers as well. The following week, Ginni Thomas sent an action item over to the group from Alex Cortes, Executive Director of Let Freedom Ring calling for open amendments on the budget resolution in the House so that amendments could be added to de-fund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. And then there was this from their March 27th planning meeting notes:
OBAMACARE: This remains a valuable opportunity - (a) use Senate and House votes to educate constituents, (b) collect horror stories of problems, increasing premiums and (c) use hashtag or messaging – “ThanksObama!” for problems. Senator Cruz, TPP and CPR are collecting horror stories – help forward to them.
TPP is Tea Party Patriots and CPR is the Center for Patient Rights. CPR is one you might recognize as one of the conduits which laundered billionaire money passed through in order to try and defeat Prop 30 in California and break unions with Prop 32. They're busy these days, it seems.
When you see Ted Cruz in the news during the dog days of August, when you spot him out stoking the fires of hate for affordable health care, just remember who's got his back: Billionaires, the wife of a Supreme Court Justice, and a whole lot of people who want to see the federal government fail by whatever means they can manufacture.