Boehner’s Three Budget Options, and Why They’re All Bad

The Speaker of the House can damage the GOP, his personal standing or a combination of both as he tries to find a way out of the budget crisis

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

This week’s budget theater in the U.S. Senate has so far spared House Speaker John Boehner from a tough decision. At some point over the next few days, however, the Ohio Republican will be forced to forge ahead with a strategy for keeping the federal government running without sparking a revolt among his restive members. When House Republicans meet on Thursday morning in the basement of the Capitol, Boehner has at least three options he can present. All of them are flawed:

Push House Republicans to pass the Senate’s bill this weekend.

The simplest way out of this mess is for Boehner to admit defeat. He can tell his conference that they stood up for their convictions in the House, that Senate Republicans let them down, and that they should live to fight another day. Under this scenario, Boehner would move to pass the funding bill already approved by the Senate, and send it on to the White House for signature before midnight on Monday.

But conservative Republicans claim that some 70 members would be opposed to such a path, requiring Boehner to secure Democratic votes. He would surely face dissension in his own ranks, especially if he was forced to violate the so-called Hastert rule, which dictates a majority of the House majority support any bill called to the floor.

(MORE: Sick of the Sequester and the Current Budget Crisis? Here’s One Answer)

Pass a short-term extension and continue negotiating.

Boehner can push a short-term stopgap funding measure through the House, keeping the government running for just a week or two until Congress will be forced to act anyway on raising the debt limit. Merging the two deadlines might give Boehner more flexibility to negotiate with the White House, potentially skirting Obama’s standing and oft-repeated promise not to negotiate on the debt limit. Republicans are preparing to attach a grab bag of familiar conservative demands to a debt-limit bill, which could receive a vote as soon as this week.

But some members would balk at a short-term funding extension designed to combine the two fights or buy more time to negotiate. “I see no reason,” says Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp. “I don’t see how we get any stronger.” Blake Farenthold, a second-termer from Texas, adds: “I think it’s premature to talk about raising the debt limit when we haven’t even figured out what we’re going to do with the [continuing resolution passed by the House]. Both are leverage points that the Republicans in the House have.” It also has the disadvantage of prolonging Boehner’s pain — and everyone else’s.

Change the Senate version and send it back.

This option virtually guarantees a shutdown. For one thing, there is little time for the two chambers to swap proposals. In addition, Senate Democrats and the White House have said repeatedly they don’t intend to negotiate over the provisions House Republicans might seek to attach, like a delay of the Affordable Care Act. Some polls suggest support for such a delay, and Boehner embraced this strategy over the summer.

(MORE: Obama: GOP Using Extortion In Debt Limit, Budget Fights)

But this approach could be the most damaging of all to the party: polls suggest Republicans are likely to shoulder the bulk of the blame if the government shuts down. Nevertheless, many House conservatives so oppose a bill that leaves the health care law intact that they’re happy to detonate this bomb, whatever the fallout. “I would have been the first one to sign a blood oath,” says Iowa Representative Steve King, to shut down the government rather than support a bill that funds Obamacare.

Boehner’s history with past debt negotiations suggests he won’t pick his poison until the last possible moment. Throughout the latest round of Washington’s ongoing war over federal spending levels, the House Speaker has repeatedly sought to deflect attention from the divisions in his conference by arguing responsibility lies with the Senate. “We’ll deal with whatever the Senate passes when they pass it. There’s no point in speculating before that,” says Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman.

But the Speaker doesn’t have much time to settle on a strategy. On Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid moved to end debate on the House bill, sending up a final vote on Saturday. It likely won’t be a restful Sunday for John Boehner.

— With reporting by Alex Rogers

56 comments
small_axe
small_axe

We tried to treat the teabaggers like adults and they are running around crapping on the carpet... Now we are gonna ram it down your throat. Try to stop it.

bwshook
bwshook

    Shut down the government if no spending bill or budget is passed in the next few days?  Come on, folks, we've been through this so many times before that we know (unfortunately) that some kind of last minute deal will pass.

     But that only solves part of the problem.  Since we have a dysfunctional Congress wrapped up in party politics, we're almost at the point where the key functions of federal government are ALREADY shut down, and have been for several months or longer.  They'll be using the budget fiasco to blame for all the things that should be getting done but aren't, just as they did last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, etc.  Some things never change.

trojaniam
trojaniam

Boehner, one of weakest Speakers in modern Congressional history, is already assured of a portrait in the Speakers' Gallery.  The smart thing to do would be to defy the teabaggers and other whackjobs in his party, push through a vote with Democratic support, and live with the consequences.  If there is a rebellion and he loses his job, he has a chance to be remembered for his effort to bring an end to the craziness in Washington--and for doing the right thing, regardless of the personal consequences.  More likely, he has no notion of personal courage and would rather cling to his job, while paralyzing the federal government.


Too bad.  The GOP is one the way to becoming a long-term minority party once again--as it was from Roosevelt thru Carter.  While a welcome event, it would be a failure of governing vision.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

Americans respected Tip O'Neil!

  Do they respect Boehner?

anon76
anon76

@Alex and Zeke

OK, you folks either need to figure out exactly what the "Hastert Rule" is and do a better job of explaining it, or else someone needs to tell Boehner that he's not about to violate it.

If it is as you say, "a majority of the majority", then as long as 117 of the current 233 Republican members of the house vote for the bill, then it does not violate the rule.  Since you say that only 70 of the 233 members would buck leadership, Boehner should be OK.

If what you actually mean is that a majority of the Representatives who vote in favor have to be Republicans, then that is a bit harder to anticipate, but again to get to the 218 required votes, as long as only 70 of the 233 Republicans balk, they are almost guaranteed to be in the majority.

However, it seems that what you are implying (though you are explicitly stating something else), is that the Hastert rule means that the bill has to be able to pass without any Democratic support.  Is that really what the Hastert rule states?  Is there any place we can look this up?

Let me just say that I think that the Hastert rule in any incarnation is a horrible, anti-democratic idea that puts the interest of the party ahead of the interest of the country.  But if it means what you seem to be implying, then it is a virtual guarantee that a fringe minority within the majority can destroy the legislative process.

jmac
jmac

Gail Collins reminds us today that the Pope (the Pope!) has made some sensible remarks about sex, that the president of Iran made some reasonable comments about nuclear weapons, and the Russians proved to be extremely helpful during an international crisis.

Can Boehner step to the plate and show the world Congress is capable of as much reason as the Pope, Putin, and Rouhani ?    

fitty_three
fitty_three

"...leverage in the House..."

The GOP has no leverage outside the House other than with the voices in their own heads.

j45ashton
j45ashton

As speaker, Dennis Hastert (who was basically a high school gym teacher)  helped cement the gridlock by inculcating the idea that Republicans would vote on nothing in the House unless the Republican speaker was assured of a Republican majority.  More party-line silly stuff.  

This is no minor moment right now.  You see the Republicans in the process of dismantling themselves nationally into 2 parties...rational conservatives & conservative crazies.  This has been a long time coming.  Going back to the John Birchers of the late 50s-early 60s whose big cause was to drop welfare in favor of maintaining national parks.  

Read the tea leaves (no pun intended).  The fight now shifts locally.  Watch & see if Fox News doesn't shift to more coverage of local stories.  By supporting the crazies, Fox News has stoked the GOP rift.  It can't help the GOP nationally now.  It can only make things worse.  But inflaming the crazies locally could possibly work.  So the fight goes on within mayoral & council election, board elections, gubernatorial elections and other statewide offices.  The crazies are motivated to fight.  The rest of us better wake up.

DavidStrayer
DavidStrayer

Gosh, I thought that the Speaker had taken an oath to defend and protect the Constitution and the United States.  And, it would seem, those commitments supersede any allegiance he might have to the Tea Party, or even the Republican party.

I may be wrong about this, but it seems that if maintaining the government operating requires that he pass resolutions in which he has to depend upon the votes of Democrats to do so, then, golly, he would seem obligated to keep the government working.

Let's be clear about this, Boehner, poor Boehner, is in a pickle of his own creation.  Knowing better, he pandered to the crazies in his party and now he's either got to eat crow or continue to pander.  The Republicans as a group are in the same predicament, and, like Boehner, it's entirely of their own making.

The issue isn't Obamacare.  The issue isn't the debt ceiling or even the budget.  The issue isn't any of those hot button items that so inflame the zealots on the far, far, far right.  The issue is very simple: the Republicans collectively hate, hate, hate Obama.  That black man made fools of them (even greater fools than they made of themselves) twice, frustrated their power grabs twice and threw in their faces the fact that they dedicated themselves solely and exclusively to making him a one term president.  He won and they resent him immensely.

No tears for the GOP.  They sold their collective souls long ago and are intent on a misanthropic program that favors the very, very wealthy and screws the rest of the country.  Let them stew in their own broth.

pcncyh
pcncyh

I am a Canadian and healthcare should be a fundamental right for everyone-poor to the old... It is incredulous the Tea party will go to no end to stop this even slitting their own throats.  Yet, the current Congress will easily pass funding for weapons and armaments than something peaceful.  If this political craziness continues for the next decade or two then the world will witness the "Fall of the American Empire" from within. 

gysgt213
gysgt213

"The Speaker of the House can damage the GOP, his personal standing"

Horse left barn.




MrObvious
MrObvious

There's no point crying about it now. Unless you spill a perfectly chilled scotch. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

When you present yourself merely as a part of NO with no solutions other than yet more give backs to corporate America and the 1%. This is what happens. A once great national party becomes largely irrelevant as anything other than a gadfly to actual governance.

Piacevole
Piacevole

He could try weeping.  Maybe that would help him out of his dilemma. 

John.Roper
John.Roper

We get the representation we vote for.  The majority of Americans want more money spent even though the same people don't pay much in taxes.  Congress people and the President know this and know how to use this fact to get re-elected.  Their individual objectives are continueing political power.  "Power" is what drives them, not "Service".

This House of Cards will collapse someday, maybe not in my lifetime, or maybe soon.  Who knows?  Our debt is already more than our gross national product, like the European contries.  The only difference is that we can print money while they're tied to the Euro.  Eventually we won't be able to print enough money without causing financial catastrophe.

But hey, let's just keep spending money as we party on . . . . .

MarcusTaylor
MarcusTaylor

Ronald Reagan turned America from a manufacturing economy into a service economy. This act precipitated the downfall of unions and the shrinking of the American middle class.  Voodoo economics does not work! What does work is a proper education.

If Americans were "educated" they would know that Ronald Reagan cut the top tax rate from 70% to 50% to 38% to 28%, giving obesely wealthy Americans gigantic new piles of money to play with. As a result of his tax cuts, the national debt nearly tripled on Reagan's watch, from $993 billion to $2.6 trillion.  AND THE REPUBLICANS SAID NOTHING AND DID NOTHING!

If Americans were properly educated, they would know that Republican President Ronald Reagan finally signed into law "The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982", THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES! And he still couldn't negate "Voodoo Economics" with his tax hike.

But Americans read, write and comprehend at an 8th Grade Level (the same as a 14 year old) and have memories shorter than their nose hairs ......

S_Deemer
S_Deemer

Shakespeare dealt with this situation centuries ago: "Hoist with his own petard."

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

Not basking in much glory now eh Mr. Speaker?

This line illustrates what is really important to Republicans; "But this approach could be the most damaging of all to the party: polls suggest Republicans are likely to shoulder the bulk of the blame if the government shuts down

Yup!  It's all about the blame.  The focus is on finger pointing and gaining seats in the next election.  Forget about the fact that for the vast majority of We the People the recession is still a major issue.  We haven't recovered yet.  Forget about the fact that continued partisan ideologically oriented political tactics are hurting the nation both at home and abroad.  Yeah, let's focus on who's to blame.  And people wonder about the dearth of leadership in D.C.!

Let's take a look at Option 4 - Pass the Senate bill and remove the national angst over the budget and debt ceiling.  THEN, work with Democrats to a) reduce the deficit, b) reduce the national debt, c) rewrite Obamacare in a reasonable and positive way.  There ARE options. 

News Flash!  Both sides have good ideas on what to put in and what to take out on all three issues.  Our elected leaders need to start LISTENING to and WORKING with each other instead of this mindlessness that they have been pursuing for decades.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@trojaniam  "The GOP is one the way to becoming a long-term minority party once again..."

So Boehner is going to lose his job one way or another. Then he might as well find his personal courage, rather than follow self-professed traitors like Steve King into infamy.

JanetLeClainche
JanetLeClainche

@anon76 I had to look up the Hastert rule!  Wikipedia helped.  It's a "rule" that's been broken many times and should just go away.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@anon76 

They're not into journalism these days. 

Russert and Todd said they don't need to worry about that truth stuff.

fitty_three
fitty_three

@jmac 

And isn't that an outgrowth of the foreign policy stance Obama has in place?

Naah, couldn't be....

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@doriangrey_grey Actually he would have. Dr Seuss was all about acceptance and trying new things. The GOP and Cruz are about neither.

Onepatriot
Onepatriot

@pcncyh From within.........isn't that the reason Rome fell, and other great civilizations?    As long as we have such hatefulness and refusal to cooperate with the other party, there's a real threat of this.  The moderates need to bail out of that Republican mess and start a new party without such extreme views.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@John.Roper Power is a bit to simplistic of a term.  I'd say ambitious is more accurate.  They all want to get elected, or they wouldn't be there. But that is how a republic is suppose to work.  If you don't do what most of your constituents want, then you won't get reelected.

Our debt is about 80% of GDP and is expected to stay there for about 10 years or so, then rise gradually.  But the rise is due to entitlements.  If you want to reduce the debt, you have to look at health care costs, social security, and the military.  There isn't enough money in any of the other programs to matter. 

Furthermore, wouldn't it be better to concentrate more on the GDP side of the figure for reducing the debt to gdp ratio?  

As far as printing money goes, it's irrelevant to the debt.  It only keeps interest rates low (and therefore stimulates the economy).

fitty_three
fitty_three

@John.Roper 

Party?

My wife has run up $2,880,000 in bills in a literal fight for her life, and, as a consequence, I have responsibilities that you would literally run from. I'm fine with my situation, but for you to say that I'm partying?

That's an insult.  

BTW, it's not even on your dime.  I pay for my insurance premiums and my residuals which are around 15,000 / year - a significant portion of my income (about 28%).

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@John.Roper Unwrap everything you've said and the bottom line is that you hate Democracy. I hate to break it to you but giving ALL the people a voice in their government so they can check the power of the Landed Gentry is EXACTLY what the founders had in mind when they formulated our government. The irony is that the only place the Wealthy retain their power is in the LOWER house, the one designed to be closest to the common man.

SuperMatt
SuperMatt

@John.Roper Actually, the biggest problem lately was the huge tax cut for millionaires put into place by Bush.  He had a surplus, and instead of using it to pay down our debt, he decided to give money back to his rich friends.

tommyudo
tommyudo

@MarcusTaylor

I don’t disagree with anything you have said in how things in this country have changed in the last 30 years. However, you give Reagan too much credit. Way back in the late 1950s and early 60s when he was a shill for GE, Reagan was being groomed for high office by the top1% that run things in this country. He was simply their “errand boy”, their vessel with the smiling face and platitudes like “Morning in America” to get done what they wanted – cheap labor and the decimation of the labor unions - hence the destruction of the middle class. The world was their oyster, forget the American worker. They were only collateral damage.

It was a slow and systematic process and would have been totally completed and cemented shut if Romney had won last year. I think most people know in their gut that we have been screwed over the decades, but they are too busy working harder (with higher productivity) for less pay that they don’t have the time to contemplate and connect all the dots. The Left have figured it out, but those on the Tea Party Right, who also have been economically affected in the last 30 years, have let their  personal biases be co-opted to the point that they cast blame on the powerless instead of the true enemy, and believe me the corporatists, and their house broken elected officials,  are the enemy.

jsfox
jsfox

@AlphaJuliette And how would you re-write PPACA in a reasonable and positive way? 

jsfox
jsfox

@AlphaJuliette @MarcusTaylor Please also let us not forget that most of that was because of lost revenue due to the recession and  the need to insure the economy didn't fall off a cliff into depression not knew spending programs. Lets us also not forget that Bush squandered a surplus on unpaid for tax cuts and two unpaid for wars that were kept off the books. And one of those wars was based on an outright lie. Let us also not gorget that Reagan took us from a creditor nation to a debtor nation. Republicans are in absolutely no position to be giving lectures on fiscal responsibility.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@jsfox @AlphaJuliette I have no idea jsfox as I, like the vast majority of Americans, don't know what's in it.  But, as we take each step toward implementation we find out a little more.  Take last nights news report for instance.   For those who don't already have it, people making a certain amount of money are going to have to buy health insurance that will well exceed $500/month. Additionally, the success of the entire program hinges on young people buying into the program.  The idea here is that because they are young and healthy they won't need health care and would therefore help subsidize the program for the elder people who do need it.

First and foremost I oppose the idea that the U.S. government can compel We the People into purchasing anything from a third party.  Secondly, how are young people who are just starting out and who don't have well paying jobs yet going to be able to contribute in any significant way into the program?  This is an especially important question when you consider the current labor market and struggling economy.  These are just two examples of what I consider problems with the program.

It is abundantly clear that our healthcare system in the U.S. isn't right, affordable or fair.  But Obamacare may hurt more than it will help.  And it will only be through respectable discussion among our elected leaders that we can address this issue in a positive and productive way.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@yodadog @AlphaJuliette Thank you Yodadog.  I have created an e-mail and have sent it to no less than 11 representatives including Speaker Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.  Take a look below.  AND, as long as you mentioned it you too should find and write to our elected representatives and let them know how We the People feel about how they conduct the business of government.  So should every voter in this country.

Good morning Senator McConnell,Sept. 25, 2013

Even though you are not my state representative I am writing to you out of concern for the tactics you and your party have been engaged in that have been hurting this nation and We the People.As the Senate Minority leader I think it only fair that you should consider the opinions and observations of people who do not reside within your state.Please consider the following;

Richard Haas of the Counsel of Foreign Relations writes;

"The biggest threat to the United States comes not from abroad but from within. This is the unexpected message of Council on Foreign Relations President Richard N. Haas in Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order."

"Many of the foundations of this country's power are eroding," he warns. "The effect, however, is not limited to a deteriorating transportation system or jobs that go unfilled or overseas owing to a lack of qualified American workers. To the contrary, shortcomings here at home directly threaten America's ability to project power and exert influence overseas, to compete in the global marketplace, to generate the resources needed to promote the full range of US interests abroad, and to set a compelling example that will influence the thinking and behavior of others."

Abraham Lincoln in his Lyceum Address of 1838 warns of disunity in the United States;

"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?-- Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!--All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years."

"At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

The context of his speech was the issue of slavery and how it was dividing the nation.As we all know from history that unresolved issue resulted in the Civil War.But, what was true 175 years ago is still very true today.The context today is in the warring political parties who seem much more interested in promoting their own ideology and looking ahead to the next election than they are in actually coming together to solve this nation's problems.And, as Richard Haas points out, this is having a debilitating effect here and abroad.

What we are witnessing and experiencing in Washington D.C. is exactly what John Adams warned about in 1789, the tyranny of two great political parties;

"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."

Context is everything.And, for those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat the lessons.One more quote.This one from Benjamin Franklin;

"Experience keeps a dear school but fools will learn in no other."

There are ample warnings and reasons for congress to stop the bitter partisanship that has not only dominated politics in this nation but has actually become much worse over the years.Every election cycle now seems to bring with it more division, more bitterness and more consequences that only hurt We the People.It has to stop.It's time for a fundamental course change.That course change can be effected by joining with NoLabels and their common sense approach to actually solving this nations problems.

Sincerely,

AlphaJuliette (not my real name)

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@tom.litton @AlphaJuliette @jsfox Actually, I do like the single payer option.  As long as it can be properly funded through tax's.  The definition of "proper" being that said taxes are dedicated to healthcare ONLY and not to be added to the General Fund.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AlphaJuliette @tom.litton @jsfox Yes, that is why i specified St. Louis, and i assumed you were only interested in the min necessary to meat the mandate.

You didn't answer my question though?  Are you for a single payer system, or do you know of a better way of dealing with health care? 

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@fitty_three @AlphaJuliette Actually Fitty_three I am as well informed as any on this subject.  Take a look below in my reply to jsfox above. 

In just this discussion and just between he and I there are a lot of variables involved.  It's a complicated system and not one that will actually meet the healthcare needs of the nation in my humble opinion.  Much more work needs to be done on this as I see it. 

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@tom.litton @AlphaJuliette @jsfox It's much more complicated than that Tom.  The monthly premiums are based on your annual salary, where you live and what type of coverage you select.  The co-pays and annual out of pocket deductibles vary widely.  And for those who can only afford the cheapest option the insurance amounts to catastrophic type insurance which won't help for lesser aches pains and related health issues.

AlphaJuliette
AlphaJuliette

@jsfox @AlphaJuliette Here's one news article that explains the costs as I mentioned. 

 http://www.nbcnews.com/health/some-say-obamacares-affordable-coverage-isnt-affordable-them-4B11241833

The monthly costs are on a sliding scale based on your annual income and where you live and, what type of insurance you pick (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum) That selection will determine how much your deductibles will be.  Also, where you live will be a factor.  Take a look here:

http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/25/20695336-understanding-what-the-new-healthcare-law-means-to-you

Ex. 1. - Single 27 year old making $25,000/year will pay $145/Mo.

Ex. 2. - Faily of 4 making $50,000/year will pay $282/Mo.

Ex. 3 - Single person living in Dallas who opts for the Silver coverage and makes $50,000/year will pay $575/Mo.

Ex. 4 - Same person living in Indianapolis opting for the same coverage will pay $725/Mo.

There are no government tax credits for those making more than $48,000/year according to this article.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@AlphaJuliette @jsfox I just heard the cost of health care in Missouri this morning.  $72 is the average across the state, and is $32 in St. Louis city. 

As stated before, the only way i know of to avoid a health insurance mandate is to use a single payer system.  The mandate is a republican idea in order to avoid a single payer system.   The question is, are you in favor of a single payer system and all the consequences that entails? 

fitty_three
fitty_three

@AlphaJuliette

I think that you aren't really well informed as to the costs. The exchanges will be available on a sliding scale based on income, and while I don't know the limits, the idea that someone with a very limited income will have to pay $500 a month is decidedly NOT one of those things that will happen.

jsfox
jsfox

@AlphaJuliette @jsfox "I, like the vast majority of Americans." No you like a lot of Americans have not bothered to find out what is in it. Instead you have relied on BS and misinformation about PPACA coming out of the right.

"For those who don't already have it, people making a certain amount of money are going to have to buy health insurance that will well exceed $500/month." What news report by whom? Here is the list of premiums in the 39 states that have published so far.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/170873370/HHS-ACA-Premium-Chart 


No one is compelling you to buy, You are free not purchase healthcare if that is what you chose You just have to pay the penalty for being a driver of increased healthcare costs and being a freeloader on the system. However the fairer system would be single payer where everybody gets insurance automatically and it just part of your tax bill.


And so far all the signs are pointing to PPACA actually helping