Repealing Obamacare is impossible in the near term, so why does Paul Ryan's budget assume it's repealed? To keep a little more than a dozen guys happy. Fox News' Chris Wallace told Ryan, "That's not going to happen." National Journal's Jill Lawrence writes that repealing Obamacare is a "fantasy." But there are 16 House Republicans living in an alternate universe.
Ryan told Fox News Sunday that his budget, which he will unveil tomorrow, assumes Obamacare is repealed. "We believe it should" be repealed, Ryan said. "Yes, our budget does promote repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a better system." Ryan's budget doesn't actually assume the repeal of all of Obamacare. It keeps the tax increases and Medicare cuts so that it can balance in 10 years, as top Republicans in the House promised conservatives. As National Journal explains, Ryan's budget assumes that President Obama would sign a law repealing Obamacare or that Republicans win veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate in 2014. Both of those are very unlikely to happen.
But there is a significant number of House Republicans who refuse to accept that reality. As The Hill's Molly K. Hooper reported Sunday, some House conservatives were upset that the continuing resolution to fund the government until the end of September did not defund Obamacare, and Republican leaders wouldn't let them amend the bill to add that. So those 16 Republicans voted against their party on a procedural vote on the spending bill last week. FreedomWorks sent out a petition titled "Demand Boehner Defund Obamacare." The office of Louisiana Rep. John Fleming, one of the 16, gave The Hill a statement saying Fleming thought the spending bill "was a prime opportunity to move conscience legislation that would restore protections stripped away by Obamacare." Republicans, needing 218 votes and only able to afford losing between 15 and 17 of them, would have lost the vote if so 17 Democrats hadn't been absent. But those conservatives are promising to do it again. "Worse, from a leadership perspective, is that some Republicans say they plan on doing it again if they feel leaders are limiting them from offering controversial amendments on the floor," Hooper reports.
While President Obama has complained that he can't even use a "Jedi mind meld" to reason with the House GOP, the House GOP can't do the same to reason with itself. So NBC News' First Read says that Ryan is including Obamacare in his budget because Republicans want to pass a budget with a majority of Republicans. You can get a sense of what reality those 16 lawmakers are living in by reading leading conservative blogs. RedState's Erick Erickson celebrated the anti-Obamacare defectors, calling them the "Conservative Fight Club." On Monday, RedState's Daniel Horowitz writes, "It's time Republicans engage in a fight over Obamacare..." He envisions forcing a vote on Obamacare, and red state Democrats voting against it. "They should lead filibusters into the night attacking every aspect of the program, much like Rand Paul did with domestic drone use last week." But, Republicans have been fiercely fighting Obamacare for years. They fought it all the way to the Supreme Court, and lost. They fought it in the 2012 election, and lost. Eight Republican governors have given up and accepted Obamacare's Medicaid extension.
After the November elections, House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans would stop voting to kill Obamacare, something they did more than 30 times in the last Congress. "Obamacare is the law of the land," Boehner said. He has not yet convinced enough Republicans in Congress.