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Whatever The Republican Deal, It Must Include Obamacare

It was the whole point of the shutdown fight to begin with, regardless of the priorities of other House members.

It’s unfair to call Paul Ryan’s oped a cave or a surrender, as many on Twitter are accusing. It’s not that, at all. It’s simply an indication of where we’d be if not for the conservative caucus’s insistence on fighting over Obamacare: once again talking about bargains over debt ceiling brinkmanship no one buys, while moving toward trading small ball cuts in more popular entitlements for tax increases on the people who fund those entitlements. It’s picking a different goal and enemy at a time when all fire should be concentrated on the unpopular entitlement which is stumbling out of the gate. It’s a tactical error to shift to the larger conversation on entitlements: “Nobody trusts Republicans on anything, so they should totally just start cutting Medicare. That’s a great thing to target at a time like this, and certainly doesn’t muddy the messaging waters at all!”

It’s of enormous importance to get a policy win out of this process for Republicans on Obamacare. A supercommittee designed to negotiate on Chained CPI and a medical device tax rollback is arguably worse than getting nothing out of the shutdown. It actively undercuts the most basic idea of a remade Republican priority list which doesn’t involve running to whatever Wall Street and industry lobbyists want over the impact of policies on the populace. Even a fight for employer mandate repeal would be better ground, given the work hour cutbacks. The populist message of injustice which Jon Stewart delivered multiple times in the space of a half hour show on Monday, and which Wolf Blitzer echoed today, is apparently too hard for House Republicans to grasp.

It’s not like there are obvious justifications for the argument Stewart advanced dropping every day on the front pages of national newspapers.

Yesterday, the administration had to do a mass reset of everyone’s passwords, with usernames wiped out and accounts that have to be rebuilt from scratch.

Due to faulty data from the exchanges, “some Americans won’t be covered even after they sign up for an insurance plan.” And it’s not like individual mandate delay would give you $35 billion to play with, according to the CBO.

It’s obvious the White House is doing its best to continue to shift the conversation toward the spectre of default or other policy fights. They’re doing that for a reason: it’s much stronger ground for them. What Republicans need to do is simply unite around a realistic compromise, put forward by John Boehner, which includes a policy win on Obamacare. It doesn’t even need to be a significant win (the ideal, of course, would be a 1 year CR + 1 year debt limit hike + 1 year individual mandate delay), but it needs to include a win on Obamacare – even the fig leaf of the Vitter requirement of Congressional equivalency is better than nothing at all. It was the whole point of the shutdown fight to begin with, regardless of the priorities of other House members.

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