Let's see if we've got this straight: The U.S. government runs out of money in little more than a week and will breach the debt ceiling within a few more, Congress is nowhere near approving a fiscal 2014 budget and defunding/repealing healthcare reform remains House Republicans' top priority.
What's wrong with this picture?
The House leadership last week decided to back Tea Party efforts to tie a continuing resolution and/or the debt ceiling debate to funding for the Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- which fully takes effect Jan. 1. The state health insurance marketplaces are supposed to be up and running Oct. 1, with half the state exchanges to be run solely by the federal government.
The House has voted more than 40 times to either defund or repeal the ACA only to see the legislation arrive DOA in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and employers have been working on plans and switching systems to implement the law by its effective date, with companies like Walgreens already announcing plans to move their employees to the exchanges.
Among the issues Republicans have yet to address is the impact suddenly yanking all funding would have on the delivery of healthcare.
But maybe that's the strategy: GOP strategist Karl Rove has said repealing Obamacare would be a bad idea. He'd rather see the law crippled and the administration get the blame, figuring a poorly implemented system would be an electoral gift in the mid-term elections.
GOP House Speaker John Boehner made defunding Obamacare part of the continuing resolution to keep the government operating through Dec. 15 sent to the Senate Friday on a 230-189 vote -- despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's promise such a measure would be rejected out-of-hand.
"Now it's up to the Senate to listen to the families & small businesses who don't want #Obamacare," Boehner tweeted after the vote.
At an appearance at a Ford plant in Missouri, President Obama said the vote proves Republicans are focused on politics, not the good of the nation.
"They're just trying to mess with me," Obama said.
Boehner told a Thursday news conference it is not the House's intent to trigger a government shutdown. Rather, he said, it's up to Senate Republicans to do everything they can to neuter the ACA -- and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has indicated he's up to the task, planning a possible filibuster to keep a clean bill from passing the upper chamber.
"Listen, Obamacare's driving up the cost of healthcare. It's destroying millions of American jobs," Boehner said. "It is a train wreck. It has to go. We've done everything humanly possible over the last 2 1/2 years."
Obama has no intention of signing a measure that yanks funding from healthcare reform.
"The administration strongly opposes House passage of [the resolution], making continuing appropriations [dependent on defunding healthcare reform] ... because it advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class," a White House statement of policy said.
"The resolution would defund the Affordable Care Act, denying millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage. If the president were presented with [the resolution], he would veto the bill."
Obama has said he wants a clean bill that will allow the government to operate and give Congress time to work out a budget -- a neat trick since it hasn't passed one in three years. He also asserted continuing resolutions and debt-ceiling increases never have been tied to hot-potato issues -- something former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said is blatantly false.
At the Business Roundtable last week, Obama said healthcare inflation has slowed and the federal deficit is coming down though the national debt is still growing.