Amanda Carpenter, a speechwriter for Sen. Ted Cruz (and a great follow on Twitter), points out the obvious here about Rep. Paul Ryan’s WSJ oped this morning. It says not a word about Obamacare — and volumes about House Speaker John Boehner’s negotiating strategy.
At this point, we’re headed toward a resolution that a lot of conservatives are not going to like after the last few months of hype. The plan bypasses the entire “defund-shutdown” movement, which got us to where we are right now, and whose tactics Boehner adopted under pressure. We’re headed for the exact same “grand bargain” trade off that the House Leadership was angling for in early September, before any of this began — a loosening of the temporary sequestration levels of discretionary spending (which Democrats have been complaining about constantly in the current House appropriations debates) in exchange for entitlement reforms that scale back the nation’s long-term liabilities.
This is very much in line with the public’s view of what debt ceiling crises are good for — spending reforms. Ryan specifically mentions the Medicare reform plan that he and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., developed in 2011, but he leaves everything on the table.
These reforms are vital. Over the next 10 years, the Congressional Budget Office predicts discretionary spending—that is, everything except entitlement programs and debt payments—will grow by $202 billion, or roughly 17%. Meanwhile, mandatory spending—which mostly consists of funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—will grow by $1.6 trillion, or roughly 79%. The 2011 Budget Control Act largely ignored entitlement spending. But that is the nation’s biggest challenge.
As The Washington Examiner’s Byron York pointed out this morning, this probably begins with a short-term debt ceiling increase (to buy time) and then negotiations about matters wholly unrelated to Obamacare.
But then, it’s been evident for several days that nothing is happening with Obamacare. Nothing. The current impasse has not delayed it, defunded it, or given it a hang-nail. Moreover, there’s nothing about the current Republican strategy of passing mini-CRs that threatens Obamacare in any way — quite the opposite. If Harry Reid’s Senate were to pass every mini-CR today and President Obama were to sign all of them, we’d then be in a shutdown that practically no one notices, and no closer to creating pressure for any Obamacare-related change.
So now we see a light at the end of the tunnel. The biggest remaining question is whether even a decent victory on entitlements be taken as a “sell-out” by conservatives after the “defund” movement.