Conservative Republicans in the Senate sparring with their House counterparts over the best strategy -- no, you go first -- to defund the Affordable Care Act is great comedy, but, sadly, the gamesmanship could have real consequences for the nation as it rumbles closer to a government shutdown.
Friday the House is expected to vote on a measure to continue funding the federal government after Sept. 30, but only if the Affordable Care Act is gutted. The bill is sure to be approved. Frustrated and weakened, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made the concession to include the anti-Obamacare provision after he couldn't persuade his caucus to drop its shutdown strategy. It's a strategy Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) described as "kamikaze."
The doomed bill will go next week to the Senate, where Democratic leaders vowed again Thursday to defeat it, and the White House issued yet another advance veto warning -- as if anyone thinks President Barack Obama would gut his signature legislative achievement.
What do the conservatives do after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who ginned up the futile "defund Obamacare plan," fails in his efforts and the Democrats return a simple funding bill back to the House? The days are dwindling down to Oct. 1, the deadline to avoid shutting down the federal government. And mind you, this funding resolution only calms things down until mid-December, when the next ginned-up fiscal crisis over raising the debt ceiling will begin.
We've seen this game of brinkmanship before. Two years ago there was a series of bitter fights over tax hikes and spending cuts that resulted in 2013's automatic budget cuts, known as the "sequester." That's been a disaster. Getting the nation to the best place between revenue and spending requires navigating a difficult road. Surely it can be done without lunatics, one faction of one house of Congress, driving the bus.