I didn’t get into it here, but the collapse of the Senate Omnibus Spending Bill was very good news for Obamacare opponents. The bill sought to thwart the coming plans to undermine Obamacare via defunding by providing at least a billion in appropriations to pay for the beast to get out of its egg and onto its feet. Now, that might not happen. Splendid.
Don’t take my word for it. From a column by Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:
The Senate passed the Continuing Resolution 79-16 this afternoon. Another way of saying that: The Senate voted to defund the implementation of both health-care reform and financial-regulation reform. The good news is that law will keep the government’s lights on until early March. The bad news is that the law does it by extending 2010’s funding resolution — and that resolution didn’t include provisions for implementing the bills that were passed as the year went on.
Republicans had been talking about attacking the health-reform law by defunding it, but few thought they’d succeed without a fight. The assumption was that Democrats would shut down the government before they let Republicans take that money. But as it happened, there was no fight at all. The omnibus spending bill collapsed, and the continuing resolution compromise was reached within a few days. Most senators probably don’t even know the implications their vote had for the implementation of bills passed over the past year.
Well, that was for the moment. I don’t think it will be that easy down the line. As I predicted in my 2011 prognostications, I do expect a government shut down over the refusal of the House of Representatives to fund Obamacare. But, I expect a compromise that will keep the government open, at the cost/benefit (take your pick) of slowing down Obamacare in preparation for the final battle over its fate in 2012.
Nevertheless, this is bad news for the health-care bill and the financial-regulation bill. There’s been a tendency to assume that the universe of options for passed legislation was binary: Either they went forward, or they get repealed. But with an angrily divided government, we may find ourselves in that little-known middle category: The Republicans can’t repeal them and the Democrats can’t fully fund them, and so rather than simply going forward, they limp forward.
One can only hope.