- - Monday, September 30, 2013

It didn’t have to come to this. The showdown between House Republicans and the White House, with all the phony drama seasoned with buckets of crocodile tears, wasn’t inevitable. President Obama has been working on this for four years as if the Republicans didn’t exist. The mess is the natural consequence of the no-compromise strategy he has taken from Day One.

Consider Mr. Obama’s original campaign promise to “bring all parties together”: He would broadcast the health care negotiations on C-SPAN “so that the American people can see what the choices are.” It never happened. The 2,471-page bill was cooked up by top Democratic operatives and lobbyists who barred the doors to Republicans.

Democrats passed Obamacare without pretending to solicit Republican votes. The Democratic leadership knew it could pass the bill on a party line at the price of sweetheart deals for the votes of congressmen worried about re-election. There was the Louisiana Purchase, an extra $300 million in Medicaid pork inserted into Obamacare for Sen. Mary L. Landrieu. Sen. Ben Nelson’s vote was bought with the Cornhusker Kickback, $100 million in aid for Nebraska — though the Senate later retreated from the shady deal after it became public. In the House, the final vote giving Mr. Obama his victory was contributed by Bart Stupak of Michigan, who won from the White House a pledge that the government wouldn’t use Obamacare to pay for expansion of abortion funding. The administration reneged on its word and will force companies and plain taxpayers to subsidize abortions and birth-control devices. (Mr. Stupak went home to find a job.)

Obamacare was built on deception. It’s advertised to make insurance more affordable while providing more benefits for more people. Already, costs are soaring like a Fourth of July skyrocket. By 2016, the individual mandate tax will hit an average family of four with an increase of $2,780 if it chooses a health plan that doesn’t suit the administration. All but the most obtuse liberals realize it’s a train wreck. Prominent Democrats have said so. Considering the haste in which the scheme was concocted and forced through Congress, who can be surprised?

Democrats passed Obamacare with a no-compromise strategy, and they’re continuing to run out the clock. “The Senate decided not to work yesterday,” House Speaker John A. Boehner pointed out on Monday. “Well, my goodness, if there’s such an emergency, where are they?” Mr. Boehner compromised from his original plan of defunding Obamacare entirely to a mere one-year delay on the individual mandate. It was a big concession. Instead of negotiating in good faith over the weekend, Mr. Obama retreated to the golf course.

Republicans may have wised up at last. The next showdown is scheduled in less than three weeks. For the past several months, the federal government has been stuck at the $16.7 trillion credit limit, and the Treasury Department has been paying the bills by raiding federal retirement accounts. According to the Congressional Budget Office, failure to raise the limit would “severely strain the Treasury’s ability to manage its cash and could lead to delays of payments for government activities and possibly to a default on the government’s debt obligations.” That would have more serious consequences than a temporary shutdown of nonessential government functions.

Going into the debt-ceiling debate, Republicans must realize that the Democratic strategy is to get their way, regardless of what it does to the country. To deal with this, Republicans must set aside their obsession with self-preservation to do what they promised they would do if only they could get to Washington.