09.30.2013 1

Why does Harry Reid want to shut down the government?

ReidtheAnarchistBy Rick Manning

House Republicans are desperately trying to hand President Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid a gift by delaying the not ready for primetime Obamacare law by a year, but Obama and Reid are too obstinate to accept it.  Instead Obama and Reid are willing to risk a partial “federal government shutdown.”

Wisely, House Republicans have anticipated that Obama and Reid would ignore the pleas of millions of Americans and play politics by pushing a shutdown by also sending the Senate legislation that would keep the military and federal law enforcement funded in the event an agreement cannot be reached.

This second funding law is on top of the House’s passage a Department of Defense year long funding bill in July.  A bill that Harry Reid’s Senate has failed to even consider.

Given Reid’s failure to pass a military funding measure, one can reasonably wonder if the Majority Leader has always planned to use our heroes in harm’s way as political pawns in a potential government shutdown?

The sad calculus is that Reid believes that he does not need to compromise on Obamacare’s implementation and through a complicit media can shift public sentiment against the Republicans by forcing a shutdown.

In the short run, this will likely be true, but if Republicans hold firm in their demand that Obamacare be delayed for one year, the reasonableness of their position will come through and it will be Harry Reid who caves as his own constituencies demand that he accept the House position.

The fact is that Obamacare is not ready to go into effect.  Here are just a few facts.

Almost half of the regulatory deadlines laid out in the law have been missed, meaning that the rules for following the law are as clear as mud.

The Administration has attempted to exempt big businesses from the impact of the law for a year by saying they would not enforce the employer mandate for a year.  The problem is that the Administration does not have the legal power to wave a magic wand and wish a major portion of the law out of existence for a year.  That requires legislation, which is exactly what the House Republicans are trying to do, over Harry Reid and Obama’s objection.

The Administration has exempted Congress from some of the effects of the law, after Harry Reid himself went to the President with a plea for help.  Once again, this is a power the President doesn’t have, and only through passing the one year delay will Congress legally get any relief from the law’s impact.

Senate author of the Obamacare law, Max Baucus of Montana, has termed the law’s implementation as a “train wreck” and the fact is only the House Republican proposal can stop it.  Of course, after a multitude of phone calls from the White House, the retiring Baucus has subsequently recanted that unhelpful, honest sentiment.

The White House phone lines also were burning up earlier in September as they desperately worked to stave off vocal opposition from the AFL-CIO, which called the implementation of the law “highly disruptive” to union members’ health plans.  House Republicans would delay this disruption for a year and allow the President to get the bugs out of his system.

The head of the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA) argued (see video) earlier in September, “If the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) cannot be fixed, and it destroys the health and welfare funds that we have all fought for and stand for, then I believe it needs to be repealed.”

The heads of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers international union (UFCW) and UNITE-HERE signed a letter to Obama, Reid and Pelosi in August. It states, “Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA (Obamacare) will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

And even the AFL-CIO chapter in Harry Reid’s own Nevada enacted a resolution condemning the law in August saying, “The unintended consequences of the ACA will lead to the destruction of the 40 hour work week, higher taxes and force union members onto more costly plans.”

Today, in spite of mounting opposition from the left, Harry Reid is likely to callously throw our government into a partial shutdown to gain a little, temporary political good will.

But this time he will lose.

He will lose because the House Republican is finely focused on standing on principle to fight a law that America does not want, and their proposal is reasonable and understandable.   Every American can understand that delaying implementation of all parts of Obamacare for a year and not just those that help the politically connected is both fair and responsible.

And with a simple message, Republicans, if they weaher the initial storm, will be able to deliver it as the media has to report it every time they discuss the issue.

Why does Harry Reid want to shut down the government?  Because he is betting that the Republicans fold their winning hand when the first couple of cards don’t go their way.

The next few weeks will tell if he is right.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government

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