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Defunding Obamacare not a smart strategy

AS funding authorization for the federal government approaches its end on Sept. 30, many of the furthest right Republicans in Congress are suggesting a tactic of passing temporary appropriations to continue government operations only with a deal to defund Obamacare.

It's a nice thought for opponents of the Affordable Care Act, but like the 40-plus previous attempts in the House of Representatives to defund the health care legislation, it won't work.

This strategy has a better chance of damaging the Republican Party than it does to President Obama's signature legislation.

While on its surface, many conservatives may think a government shutdown is not such a bad thing - we went through this in 1995 with little long-term effect other than a personal stain on Bill Clinton's presidency - Republican strategist Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal that a shutdown this time would be far worse.

"Back then, seven of the government's 13 appropriations bills had been signed into law, including the two that funded the military," Rove wrote. "So most of the government was untouched by the shutdown. Many of the unfunded agencies kept operating at a reduced level for the shutdown's three weeks by using funds from past fiscal years.

"But this time," Rove continued, "no appropriations bills have been signed into law, so no discretionary spending is in place for any part of the federal government.

"Washington won't be able to pay military families or any other federal employee. While conscientious FBI and Border Patrol agents, prison guards, air traffic controllers and other federal employees may keep showing up for work, they won't get paychecks, just IOUs."

Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer called that strategy nuts, and wrote that a shutdown caused by a fractured Republican Party is Obama's fondest hope for a Democratic recovery.

As bad as it seemed at the time, Americans apparently had the benefit of more mature leadership in the White House and Congress in the mid-1990s, Democratic President Bill Clinton at least had executive experience, having served 12 years as governor of Arkansas, compared to our current community organizer turned Senator president. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich had the leadership skills to steer a bunch of feisty new Republicans and their Contract with America to pass at least some appropriations bills.

Here's hoping that our leaders come to an agreement and pass an appropriations bill without a government shutdown, before the president and a fractured Congress cause damage to not just the Republican party, but the entire country.


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