The debate over funding government and avoiding default has officially reached the chaos stage. By my count, no less than four separate conversations are taking place right now: The White House is talking to House Republicans and, separately, it to Senate Republicans. In the Senate, moderate Republicans are talking to the Democratic leadership. In the House, Republicans from the party’s extreme wing are talking to Republicans from the not-so-extreme wing, all under the watchful eye of the caucus leaders. And that’s just the official dialogue.
For a few brief moments on Monday evening, it looked like House Republicans might finally come to their senses.
When this chapter of the Republican Party’s descent into radicalism is written, the representative quote may go not to Ted Cruz, who managed to say little memorable in his 21-hour talkathon, but to his fellow Texan, Rep. John Culberson. It was Culberson, a seven-term member from Houston, who, recounting how House Republicans voted Saturday to make a delay of Obamacare a condition for funding the government, declared, “The whole room: ‘Let’s vote!’ I said, like 9/11, ‘let’s roll!’”
House Republican leaders hope to hold yet more votes on Obamacare, maybe as early as this week. But this time, Republican leaders say, they will focus on the “individual mandate”—i.e., the provision that imposes fines on Americans who can afford health insurance but opt not to carry it. The mandate is supposed to take effect in 2014, once Obamacare’s new insurance options are available in all 50 states. Republicans want to push back that date by one year.