A shocking development: The philosopher has concluded that opening the government and raising the debt ceiling would be morally wrong. After interviewing Boehner, Reid, and Cruz (Obama has remained aloof so far), Socrates learned from Congressman Raoul Labrador that the gift of opening the government would actually damage Reid. Labrador’s words come from today’s Morning Edition on NPR.
Socrates: Your name pleases me. It connotes a passion for returning thrown sticks and continuing resolutions.
Labrador: I’d personally be willing to give the president a one-year CR, and a lot of conservatives are there with me, which would be good for the president, in exchange for a one-year delay in the implementation of Obamacare. And I think that would be something where both sides would actually be able to get something out of these negotiations.
Socrates: You fetch something good for each side! That sounds very reasonable, Labrador. The Republicans receive a halt in the insurance exchanges. The president, in return, receives a government and the ability to pay its bills. But I do not understand how having a government or paying bills is a gift to the president. My understanding was that Congress is equally responsible for the government. Perhaps you think you in turn are getting very little in a mere year’s delay of Obamacare.
Labrador: If it were up to me I’d completely repeal the act. I think we need to get rid of Obamacare. I think the Affordable Care Act doesn’t make healthcare more affordable. We’re hearing more and more people that are losing their health insurance right now, and they’re being told, unlike the promise Obama gave the American people, that if you like your current health insurance that you could keep it, they’re actually losing their health insurance and they’re being told that they’re going to have to pay more for their health insurance, so that’s what happening.
Socrates: Then it is very accommodating of you to accept a mere year’s delay of this evil law. Explain to me how people are losing their health insurance and still having to pay more for it. Do you mean they are losing their insurance because the law is making that insurance too expensive to buy? And this is happening throughout the land? Those who have not been able to get health insurance in the past—they, too, are being denied this promised insurance?
Labrador: I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for a one-year delay of a program that’s clearly not working.
Socrates: If a program is not working, that must mean the program exists. And if it exists already, how can you delay it? Do you mean that you wish to pause or dismantle an existing program? How would such a pause or dismantling work? And will this act bring insurance back to the people who are being denied it through the evil law?
Labrador: You know, there’s a lot of ideas that are floating around, and I’m not going to reject any of them, but in order for these ideas to come to fruition, what we need is to sit at the table with Harry Reid and Barack Obama.
Socrates: The table of which you speak must be an extraordinary piece of furniture; I have heard your Republican companions sing a paean to it. You are highly sociable to wish to share it with Harry and Barack. So your dinner gift to him would be an offer not to re-open your government.
Labrador: We’re not the ones who wanted to shut down the government, and you need to remember that. We wanted to keep the government open. This entire battle is about Harry Reid making sure that he keeps the Senate and that he wins the House of Representatives. That’s why he wants the shutdown, and I fear that that’s why they want actually to breach the debt ceiling at some point.
Socrates: Then your proffered gift to Harry would be an insult! By your own reasoning, Labrador, opening the government and raising the debt ceiling would do damage to your enemy. That is a moral wrong and I would not condone it. If Harry wishes to keep the government closed, then you must not pretend that it is a gift. You must keep the government closed for his sake.