A former senior health care advisor to President Barack Obama and a prominent advocate of the Affordable Care Act predicted that Republicans will shut down the federal government in their efforts to de-fund the health care law. Speaking at a Harvard School of Public Health forum, David Cutler — a Professor of Applied Economics at that university — predicted a stalmate with little chance of resolution, given the new Republican majority in the House:
CUTLER: We are likely to have an immense stalemate and I would not be surprised if we shut down the federal government over funding of discretionary health care early next year, the debt ceiling limit, the physicians’ payments. There will be about 10 opportunities to shut down the government. If we’re not going to shut them down, each time we’ll have to compromise and that strikes me as somewhat unlikely. [...]
We will go through a burning bridge, I’m not quite sure of the right analogy, in the next few months. We will either have have or come increasingly close to having a government shut down and we will probably not have any agreement on how to move forward on health care, except with the idea that maybe the 2012 elections will settle a little bit more and that’s in part because there are no wise men, I think on the Republican side who are willing to meet anyone half way.
The forum focused on the Impact of the “2010 Elections on U.S. Healthcare Reform,” but also delved deeply into policy specifics about cost control mechanisms and the policy specifics in the Affordable Care Act. Another panelist, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former McCain campaign advisor and CBO director, predicted that Republicans will “unwind” the bill through the discretionary spending process. “It will slow down the implementation and in that way put it on a timetable to coincide with the 2012 election… that’s when this whole point will be resolved,” he said.
Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that Republicans would not shut down the government over the issue, telling CNN’s John King, “we’re not talking about shutting down the government. What we’re doing here is talking about responding to the American people’s desire that this bill not become law.”