The Stop Obamacare End Game

The new bright, shiny thing in Republican land is the notion that they really really might could get the Obamacare individual mandate delayed for a year or two. Kimberly Strassel writes in the Wall Street Journal,

The question of how the GOP should handle ObamaCare has of late been dominated by those who want the party to strip funding from the law, then shut down the government unless President Obama agrees. The Defund Republicans aren’t a large faction of the conservative movement, and their plan is deeply flawed. Their strength has been in exploiting the notable lack of alternate strategies for undercutting the unpopular health law.

That’s changing. A swelling coalition of conservative activists—card-carrying members of the “repeal ObamaCare” campaign—are lighting up the movement with a different approach. The plan aims to leverage public support, play on Democrat weaknesses, and, most notably, sidestep a shutdown fight that would damage the GOP even as it failed to kill the law. Meet the “Delay coalition.”

The thinking is that a shutdown will likely bite them in the ass, whereas a delay would enjoy public support and give them more time to sabotage the law and make sure it never works.

The Delay strategy is at least aimed at an achievable goal. Its outlines are contained in a letter engineered by Heather Higgins, CEO of Independent Women’s Voice. The letter was crafted with the aid of influential repeal activists—Phil Kerpen at American Commitment, Grover Norquist and Ryan Ellis at Americans for Tax Reform, the Galen Institute’s Grace-Marie Turner, Jim Capretta, Ken Hoagland, Avik Roy, the list rolls on—and now has more than 40 signatures. The letter calls on congressional Republican leaders to use one of this fall’s legislative fights to impose a one-year delay of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, exchange subsidies and taxes.

Here’s where Ms. Stossel goes from wistful to delusional:

The political calculus is that delay, unlike defund, pushes Democrats to do something that many are already inclined to do. The president himself has endorsed delay for key parts of the bill—the employer mandate, out-of-pocket-caps, income verification requirements. Unions, the bedrock of the liberal base, are demanding wholesale changes in the law. Vulnerable Senate Democrats know the ObamaCare exchanges are a pending disaster, and they are terrified of political fallout. Twenty-two House Democrats in July voted with Republicans to delay the individual mandate.

The President is delaying some aspects of the law for one year, mostly because business leaders and others told the White House they weren’t ready to implement them. But the stuff being delayed won’t impact the rest of the law, and will inconvenience a relatively small number of people. The parts Stossel and others want delayed would render the law completely inoperable.

There is no way the Senate or the President would go along with this. If Stossel and the rest of them believe otherwise, they really have lost touch with reality. However, it’s possible that they realize this won’t work, but they’re holding out the possibility that it can in order to keep the baggers in the House from shutting down the government.