President Obama has agreed to repeal the Affordable Care Act as part of a deal with Republicans to end the government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling.
According to sources close to the administration, the President made the decision last night to sacrifice the law, popularly known as Obamacare, to prevent the budget crisis from further harming the economy.
A draft of the agreement calls for Obamacare’s immediate repeal and directs the Congress to create a bipartisan alternative as a replacement. Government funding and the debt ceiling would be extended for six months.
“Basically the Republicans outmaneuvered us,” says an aide to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. “This combined shutdown and debt ceiling strategy was just brilliant. Obviously we can’t let the government default on the debt, so we have no choice but to give up Obamacare.
“Sometimes you just have to admit when you’ve been beat. And we got beat, it’s as simple as that. Ted Cruz is some sort of a genius or something. I can’t believe it has come to this.”
Republicans shut down the government on Oct. 1 in an effort to force President Obama to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but at the time few observers predicted that the president would give up his biggest legislative achievement.
As the shutdown has progressed, however, the economic damage has accumulated, putting pressure on Obama to find a solution to the crisis. The looming debt ceiling expiry on Oct. 17 gave Republicans more leverage, as a debt default would cause unprecedented harm to the global economy.
“I always knew we’d win this fight,” says Jim DeMint, a former Republican U.S. senator from South Carolina and current chairman of the conservative Heritage Foundation. “All we had to do was make sure Obama blinked first. And boy did he blink on this one.
“I can’t wait to use the next debt ceiling to extract more concessions. Why do we even have an income tax, for example? Can’t we replace it with a tax on grape soda or something? And what’s with all these food stamps? It’s cheaper to give the indigent seeds and let them grow their own food.”
Although the bill is certain to pass the House, it may have a tougher time in the Senate where Democrats still hold a majority. Many Democratic senators are uncomfortable with giving up a program whose major provisions are only just now being enacted.
“I’m not sure about this agreement,” says Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. “I’d like the government to reopen, but at the same time do we really need to give up all of this? For the moment, I’m leaning no on this one. But we’ll see.”