09.25.2013 0

Ted Cruz teaches Mitch McConnell how to bet in the defund Obamacare poker game

CruzplaysdefundObamcarepokerBy Robert Romano

“In a game of poker, if somebody makes a bet, and then says to you, if you raise me, I’m going to fold, [he] will lose 100 percent of [his] poker games.”

That was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in his filibuster against funding Obamacare responding to a question from his colleague, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — who knows a thing or two about waging talking filibusters — asking if there was any compromise he could support that would fall short of defunding the health care law.

Cruz responded that he had pledged to his constituents not to support any continuing resolution that funds Obamacare, not even one cent, but he had some advice for his Republican colleagues.

Even if all they wanted was a compromise that chips away at or delays implementation of the health care law, they should join his filibuster. Because it would strengthen the GOP’s hand by providing a basis for negotiation with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House.

“Are there members of our conference who would like to see a compromise, who would like to see a middle ground, that mitigates some of the damage of Obamacare that responds to the people who are suffering from Obamacare?” Cruz asked.

“I think there are quite a few senators who would like to see that happen and if Republicans roll over on the cloture vote on Friday or Saturday — if we allow the Majority Leader to fund Obamacare with 51 votes — we will get no compromise, there will be no middle ground, because there will be no reason to compromise,” Cruz noted.

Cruz has a point. He may not prefer a compromise, but he is confident that without utilizing its leverage as the minority party in the Senate by denying funding for the law, Republicans will fail to accomplish anything at all in this debate. No defund. No delay. Nothing.

The Medicaid expansion would go into effect unimpeded, as would the subsidies via the insurance exchanges. The individual and employer mandates would be implemented, driving the American people off their favorite health plans and onto government-run health care. The destruction of the 40-hour work week will be complete.

So, the choice belongs with individual members. Harry Reid has decided on a parliamentary maneuver that would strip defund Obamacare language out of the continuing resolution with a simple majority vote.

But there’s a catch. Reid cannot get there without at least six Republicans to vote to go to cloture to close off debate later this week on the continuing resolution.

If he cannot get those six votes, then Reid will not have the votes to fund Obamacare any more than Cruz has the votes to defund it.

There would be a stalemate, and that is where a compromise — if that is indeed the end the game here — could be had. But only under those circumstances. Only if Republicans stand together.

While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.) are busy sharpening their knives to kill Cruz’s effort on the Senate floor, and the Republican National Committee figures out ways to exploit it — presumably so they can afford a few more sharpening stones to prevent senators like Cruz from even getting elected — Republicans senators would do well to consider the major opportunity Cruz has afforded them.

Senate Republicans have the power to insist on a 60-vote threshold for any amendment to the continuing resolution, and if they are serious in their opposition to Obamacare, that is exactly what they will ask for. And then they will defeat any amendment that attempts to remove language defunding the health care law.

Many members want to pretend that they lack the power to stop this law’s implementation, but they do. And it is time they finally stood with the American people in this battle.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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