Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Obamacare Recedes as GOP Attention Turns to Entitlements, Tax Code

The certainty of the government shutdown lasting into a second week became unavoidably clear today, along with the solidifying probability that the impasse will only be ended as part of a debt-ceiling resolution.

What’s also apparent is a fast-fading Republican interest in undermining Obamacare as a condition for either revived spending or additional borrowing. Instead, the GOP is talking more and more about securing entitlement curbs and a commitment to a tax code overhaul.

The only overt movement in the standoff this morning, however, was an especially tart exchange between the top congressional press secretaries for each party.

Speaker John A. Boehner has signaled he’s all-but insisting on combining the spending and debt debates, not only in hopes of maximizing GOP leverage against President Barack Obama but also in the expectation that he stands a better chance at rallying his caucus behind one big, if politically complicated, fiscal deal rather than two. The president has been emphatic in saying he won’t cut a budget deal of any kind as a condition for either raising debt limit or ending the shutdown.

Boehner made clear this morning that he won’t put a comprehensive but straightforward continuing resolution on the floor that would reopen the government and allow the larger budget debate to take place for the next 10 days. (The Treasury says Oct. 17 is the effective deadline for increasing the government’s borrowing authority above $16.7 trillion without risking a first-ever federal default. Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Sunday that lawmakers would be  “playing with fire” by ignoring that deadline.)

In addition to ruling out legislation to raise the debt limit without budget concessions from Obama, the speaker declared Sunday that “there are not the votes in the House to pass a clean C.R.,” which the Democrats quickly challenged him to prove by putting such a stopgap spending measure to a vote. The written pledge of 195 Democrats and the announced support from 22 Republicans (total 217, or the number currently needed to pass a bill in the House) would appear to refute the speaker’s assertion.

“There is now a consistent pattern of Speaker Boehner saying things that fly in the face of the facts or stand at odds with his past actions,” said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Americans across the country are suffering because Speaker Boehner refuses to come to grips with reality.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel fired back that it was “time for Senate Democrats to stow their faux outrage and deal with the problems at hand.”

House members are expected back this evening, after 36 hours away, but only to pass legislation that would fully reopen the Food and Drug Administration. The Senate, which had no votes over the weekend, is going to fill a pair of judicial vacancies in Illinois this afternoon.

  • Chas Holman

    It is insulting at this point..

    The GOTeas said the shutdown was an economic EMERGENCY derived from the Affordable Care Act.

    By any definition of the word, it actually IS a hostage situation at this point, and the demands keep changing.

    Now they say ‘we let that hostage go (ACA) but we’re still going into default and destroying economic recovery, unless you meet ‘other’ demands … demands we haven’t actually defined yet.

    What a mess the GOTea MANUFACTURED.


    If this keeps up, it would not surprise me if those 39 House Republicans and the Speaker demand a Trillion Dollars and a plane out of the country.(which might not be a bad idea for them, getting out of the country, if they keep playing with peoples lives for political kicks angry mobs might start running them out of town on a rail).

    • Layla

      The President made a fatal mistake when he handed control of the budget process over to Sen. Reid. He united the Republicans when they could not do it themselves. There will be no deals. It is time for this President to act like a President or step down.

    • Maerzie

      Please leave OFF the “G”, which USED TO stand for “grand”! This infant behavior is the exact OPPOSITE of grand! It’s a sacrilege to refer to the infants with any respectful title, especially the revered old name. They ARE only the nutcases, because they ARE exactly that. It’s no wonder the entire country calls them by that name. They continue to EARN the title, which is very fitting! They will NEVER hold a candle to the G.O.P. as they have zero honor or principles. The “old” are also gone, as they don’t want to be associated with the stench of so much evil, as it could rub off on them! They have either died or defected to the Democrats. They also will never BE a “party” because they are full of too much dissension! They’re simply a very sick mistake, like garbage that gets fed to the animals.

  • Richard Tebaldi

    Democrats act like spoiled children, name calling and false accusations to make their ilk believe that the Democrats are the good guys. Can you believe the foul mouthed leadership starting with the President? Do they really think intelligent people are going to buy this nonsense, or is it just for democrat voters?

    • Maerzie

      The Democrats have already negotiated away BILLIONS of dollars in concession to the babies’ temper tantrum. But the infants don’t want the color of candy that they have been given, like typical 2 year olds! Sickening! The entire informed country knows it is the sick Teapublican nutcases who don’t give a rip about the American majority!

  • gpilkin100

    This is the way I see it – the current shutdown has nothing to do with Obamacare or the debt ceiling. Well, not directly. First, we have to ask what is it exactly that the Republicans want? I have read they want to defund Obamacare. But, not forever, just for one year. The rationale includes many different explanations, including that Congress and Senate members haven’t even read the very lengthy bill. Others say it is to give a fair playing field to allow everyone access. But, really, is that what they expect us to believe?

    Oh wait, there’s going to be an election in one year, right? But no one is even thinking that far ahead. Are they?

    You see, the Republicans have realized what many people that live in countries with socialized healthcare have known for years … it works! Contrary to what has been said in the mainstream media (if that is an accurate depiction of Fox
    News), Obamacare, or more accurately, the Affordable Care Act, is a good thing that will help many people achieve decent affordable health care. The Republicans have realized that once people that have never been able to afford insurance and now can, will be extremely happy with their new found peace of mind. It gives one a sense of purpose and achievement to know that we have done something to provide for our and our family’s well-being.

    Not everyone will opt-in to the system. And they will pay a penalty. That is if
    they pay taxes. As I understand it, the penalty will actually be the lack of
    the deduction on your taxes. So if you don’t file taxes or you don’t owe taxes,
    how would you pay the penalty? I confess it is complicated, but how could it
    not be?

    In a year, when roughly 20% of the general population has newfound access to affordable healthcare they will think, “Hey, those Democrats are really looking out for me.” And, by the way, those 20% come from the working poor and lower middle class, which is where Democratic sympathies often lie.

    So, the Republicans have been pushed between a rock and a hard place (to quote a headline from earlier this week). The Republicans realize they will not have a chance to win mid-term elections in 2014 and will most likely loose control of the House of Representatives. If Obamacare is going to be successful, their answer is to create the biggest train wreck possible and then hope to blame it on the current incumbent and his administration. In other words, they are throwing the rest of us under the bus to try and save themselves. I am confident this is NOT what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they created our governing processes.

    It is ironic to read about the behavior of the US Intelligence community and the
    un-authorized use of surveillance under the guise of national security, when
    the clear and present danger is Congress itself. That’s right I said the
    greatest threat to US national security isn’t some terrorist with a dirty bomb, it is our own elected officials who refuse to do the job we have entrusted to them.

    In the end, we can only blame ourselves, for our government was created by We the People. If we allow this charade to continue we have no one to blame, but ourselves. In fact, eighty members of the House of Representatives are
    responsible for where we are today, aka the Suicide Caucus. “These eighty
    members represent just eighteen per cent of the House and just a third of the
    two hundred and thirty-three House Republicans. They were elected with fourteen and a half million of the hundred and eighteen million votes cast in House elections last November, or twelve per cent of the total. In all, they
    represent fifty-eight million constituents. That may sound like a lot, but it’s
    just eighteen per cent of the population.”

    Eighteen per cent of the population, really? So we all (82% of the population) have to suffer (and suffer we will if the US defaults) because less than 20% of some very rich, very spoiled people will not get their way by denying the poorest 20% basic human rights to adequate health care in the wealthiest country in the world. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t sound reasonable or sustainable to me.

    • Richard Tebaldi

      You leave out too much! You really want to pay insurance costs for 12 million ILLEGAL ALIENS?

  • Liberty: Coercion’s Absence

    Hussein Obama is a delusional marxist who intentionally causes chaos to advance his own destructive agenda.

    • Layla

      Unfortunately, he has an entire political party now at his disposal, one that used to care about the working man.

  • Vicky M Barber

    What are the good old boys doing now. They are having a fit because we have a black president and the don’t care about agendas. They want the whole country in the toilet so they can blame it on the black president. Wow! did I really say that?
    Of course I did. We have mandates on every kind of tax in the country. We tax on animals, cars, homes, business, and now the individual so that they can be healthy. We have health care for the young and old but the working man and woman have none. This only benefits the rich. The working sick get sicker everyday. We need health care for the average person so that they can get treatment instead of taking out a gun to even scores with killing children and the establishment. If they have access to proper health care they wouldn’t need more gun laws. Give me a break people you have a solution and you can’t see the forest for the black president. I am white and a woman and I see solutions through health care.

    • Layla

      How very fortunate you are. Let’s reduce federal employees to 29 hours, remove your taxpayer subsidized benefits and see how you do.

      • Maerzie

        Everyone knows that far too many wealthy Republicans get more subsidies (otherwise known as WELFARE or ENTITLEMENTS) than ANY of the TRULY NEEDY in our country, and are never even stigmatized for it, like the poor are!. The oil companies ALONE get more than $4+ billions dollars every single year, while they EXPORT our own oil, AND continue to rip US off at the pumps. We now have the internet. People do not live in ignorance any more, unless they CHOOSE to be ignorant and fall for the propaganda!

  • Layla

    On the contrary, I believe that American taxpayers should be entitled to the SAME ONE YEAR OPTIONAL WAIVER this administration has already granted to businesses and unions. Many still cannot afford the exchanges. It is unfair to penalize them for that and at the same time businesses are dropping their employees and families from this insurance. The other tactic being used by business is to reduce employee hours to just 29 per week. Can you feed your family on just 29 hours per week? I can’t.

    When does it stop? When the entire country is in bankruptcy, because that is where you are pushing us.

    Why should Americans be subsidizing insurance and benefits for federal employees who make in excess of 6 figures when we can’t support ourselves?

    • Vicky M Barber

      My husband is civil service and not being paid. I am retired military. I think I qualify to say whatever I think.

      • Layla

        You are most definitely entitled, Vicky. We do still have free speech…….don’t we?

  • Maerzie

    There is NO G.O.P.! Name ONE thing that is “grand” about cowardly children in adult bodies! It is now the Teapublican Libertarian nutcases!

    • Arizona_Don

      You know you might be right! I don’t know you are but there is that possibility. Could you explain to me if you could please where the GOP went wrong and obama went right in the last 5 years. I may have missed it. Take all the time you want and don’t worry about how long it is, I can read. I look forward to your explanation. This could be exiting!

  • walthill

    Boehner is Terrorizing the country with his threats. President Obama – The real America is behind you and not the Ted Cruz tea party Neo-Confederate America! President Obama do not call or talk to Boehner until a clean CR is sent to the Senate and the debt ceiling is raised without any deals(let him continue to “grand stand” before the cameras). when will Boehner remember that America has three branches within our government? If Boehner wants someone to call him give us his numbers unblocked and we will call him.

  • TheBride

    It’s time for a reasonable, national consumer tax. That’s how the EU pays for their “socialist” healthcare and we should do the same. People who WORK in this country and those who own property are always taking the brunt of these economic crises. Let everyone feel the pain. Want more? Pay the piper.

  • Thomas Aquinas

    An overview of the thousands of jobs killed by Hussein Obama’s war on carbon fuels:

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