KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Comments On Shutdown: Both Parties Are Shirking Their Duties; This Fight May Hold Off Health Law Battle On Debt Ceiling

The Washington Post: U.S. Congress's Dereliction Of Leadership On Government Shutdown
Yes, defaulting on the U.S. debt would be worse than shutting down the government. But both represent such recklessly, breathtakingly, wastefully irresponsible derelictions of leadership that the people who run this town ought to be ashamed of themselves if either comes to pass. Moreover, we are not reassured by the argument that a shutdown would make a default, which could come in mid-October, less likely. As the habits of normal compromise and negotiation become ever more frayed, further deterioration strikes us as at least an equally plausible alternative to the hoped-for wake-up call that shocks the capital back to common sense (9/29).

The New York Times: The House Rushes To A Shutdown
Delaying the health law by a year, supported by all but two House Republicans, would prevent 11 million uninsured people from getting coverage in 2014 and raise premiums for those buying coverage in the individual insurance market. The real goal is not to delay but to destroy health reform by making it appear unworkable. ... Repealing the tax on medical devices, supported by all House Republicans, would add $30 billion to the deficit over 10 years and reduce the revenues needed to pay for coverage for low-income people. This vote was nothing but a capitulation to the medical device industry and its lobbyists. ... The House even included in its spending bill a provision allowing employers to opt out of covering women's preventive health care, including contraception (9/29).

The Washington Post: The House GOP's Shutdown Plan Is Great News
Speaker Boehner's original plan was to pass a clean bill to fund the government and then attach the one-year delay of Obamacare to the debt-ceiling bill. It was a strategy that would minimize the chances of a shutdown but maximize the chances of a default. Boehner wanted that strategy because he thought Republicans had more leverage on the debt limit than they do on the shutdown. A shutdown, after all, is just bad for the economy. A default is catastrophic for it. You'd have to be insanely reckless to permit the federal government to default on its debts. And Boehner believes that House Republicans are insanely reckless and that President Obama isn't. But that strategy failed. Boehner's members refused to wait for the debt ceiling. They want their showdown now. And that's all for the better (Ezra Klein, 9/29).

The Wall Street Journal: An Obama-Cruz Shutdown
We've criticized GOP Senator Ted Cruz for his strategy to make defunding Obamacare a requirement of funding the rest of government. He and his allies know that Mr. Obama can never agree to that, and even millions of Americans who oppose Obamacare don't agree with his shutdown ultimatum. It risks political damage for the House and Senate GOP in 2014 even as Mr. Cruz builds his email list for 2016. Yet it takes two to tangle, and Mr. Obama is as much to blame for the partisan pileup as Mr. Cruz. This is a President who is eager to negotiate with dubiously elected Iranian mullahs but can't abide compromise with duly elected leaders of Congress (9/30).

Reuters: Ted Cruz: Blackmailer
Cruz's tactics are the problem. He and his allies are holding the federal budget hostage. If they don't get their way, they're threatening to shut down the federal government. That angers Cruz's fellow Republicans — who fear they will get the blame for a government shutdown as they did in 1995. Meanwhile, Obamacare will still be law. Cruz's colleagues see the effort as futile and self-serving, damaging the Republican brand in order to advance Cruz's 2016 presidential prospects with conservatives. Cruz has returned fire, blasting his critics as "defeatists" who belong to the "surrender caucus" (Bill Schneider, 9/27).

Bloomberg: Obama Should Make One Demand Of Republicans
Obama's first goal should be to take the weapon away from his opponents. If he can deliver reasonable, and for Boehner, face-saving, concessions (the delay of the Affordable Care Act isn’t one) in return for a permanent moratorium on debt-ceiling threats, the long-term benefit to his successors -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- is worth the immediate sacrifice. This may not be possible. House leaders have ratcheted up their rhetoric and the expectations of their caucus to the point that many Tea Party Republicans appear convinced that they can reverse the implementation of a landmark law by minority fiat (9/29).

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