• With: Dan Henninger, James Freeman, Kim Strassel, Dorothy Rabinowitz, Matt Kaminski

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," August 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," conservative lawmakers issue a warning to fellow Republicans on ObamaCare, "If you fund it, you're for it." But should the party risk a government shutdown?

    Plus, Chris Christie takes on Rand Paul over national security as another GOP rift is revealed.

    And Wiki Leaker Bradley Manning gets convicted, NSA Leaker Edward Snowden gets asylum. Both are being celebrated in some circles, but are they really heroes?

    Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    Well, "if you fund it, you're for it," that was the message this week from a group of conservative lawmakers to fellow Republicans as they continue their push to make defunding ObamaCare part of a deal to keep the government running past September. The plan, which could result in a government shutdown, is being met with resistance by some in the GOP, with critics calling it political suicide. But Florida Senator Rubio had this message for the skeptical Senators.


    SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: If we pass a budget in September that funds ObamaCare, you did not do everything you could. You paid for this. You doubled down on it in ways that will have irreparable harm to our economy and to our country. This is our last best chance.


    GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, "Wall Street Journal" columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    So, Dan, this Rubio strategy, what do you think of it?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: I think it's probably -- other than the fund-raising possibilities for all the principals involved, that aside, I think as a strategy, the way we're describing it now, or we will describe it, it will have a lot of detail in it. And the problem is this is about the budget, OK? And --

    GIGOT: Right, funding the whole government.

    HENNINGER: Funding the whole government, which is invariably a complex subject. If they pursue this strategy about funding ObamaCare, yeah, I think they're going to get some support for it. They're going to get the support of about 43 percent of the country. The rest of the country watching this, it will roll forward towards the shutdown, and then all -- I'm convinced, all of the media coverage will immediately start, every TV station out there talking about the effects of a government shutdown. And I think this tsunami of negative coverage is simply going to wash the Republicans out to sea one more time. People are not going to be able to focus on the complex details of this strategy.

    GIGOT: It will be kind of like the budget and funding the government and not about ObamaCare.

    James, what do you think?

    JAMES FREEMAN, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well, I think it's going to be about ObamaCare. This is why it's different in some ways from some earlier fights where Republicans are not trying to reform all of government at the deadline to do the annual spending bill. They're just saying specifically not ObamaCare. Very unpopular law.

    GIGOT: And do you think -- OK, no question all of that, but do you think that they can basically make that case and make it about that, when Obama's going to be saying the opposite? He's going to be saying, Republicans want to shut down the government in order to deny health care to poor people. That will be the debate.

    FREEMAN: But that's --


    GIGOT: I'm not saying he's right, but that's what he'll say.

    FREEMAN: You can clearly state this is not about poor people. They already get Medicaid. ObamaCare is about hooking the rest of us --


    GIGOT: You're already explaining, sir.


    FREEMAN: I don't see a lot of downside here. Because if either they force some reform, maybe even -- if it's too much to hope that they get the president to kill ObamaCare, maybe they enforce some delays in the implementation of it. On the other hand, what do you have? You have -- the government shuts down for a few days. Maybe some EPA employees will be considered nonessential and people will be able to drill for more oil. I mean, I don't really see --


    -- what the downside is.

    GIGOT: Kim, can the Republicans really hold out in a shutdown showdown? If, for example, the national parks start getting shut down, the air traffic controllers don't show up for work. I've been through this rodeo before. I don't think I've seen --


    -- the Republicans maintain a united front here, which is what you have to do to succeed.

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Look, one of the reasons this has been pushed off until now is because Republicans lost this battle a couple of times and they decided to wait till this fall to try to tackle something like this again. The problem here, Paul, is they cannot delineate an end game. OK, even if the House were to pass a bill defunding ObamaCare, even if it got a Senate vote over the opposition of Senate Majority Leader Reid, even if it made it miraculously to the president's desk, he will veto it. At which point, you need 22 Senate Democrats to overcome that veto. It's never going to happen. Yet, there's no more noble goal than defunding ObamaCare but you have to do it smartly, you have to do it in a way you can win, which is why some Republicans are advocating pushing this off, seeing if you can't get -- use better leverage, for instance, in the debt ceiling debate, something in the future, to extract some concessions, or simply continue to let this bill crack up and then see what you can get.

    GIGOT: I've talked to some of the Senators and other activists who are behind this. They basically say, look, Republicans have to be shown to be fighting for something. Because if they don't, if they don't really at least make the effort here, then it's going to demoralize the base. It's actually going to hurt the Republican Party going in 2014.

    HENNINGER: Paul, I'm sympathetic to that point of view. I understand their desire to fight back. There should be more of that. I'd like to propose the possibility they're not considering, which is that ObamaCare is in bigger trouble than they think structurally.

    GIGOT: Right. This isn't the last chance.

    HENNINGER: I don't think it's the last -- I think we could be looking at an historic self-collapse of the liberal idea. This is a big entitlement. They've pushed it forward. If this thing implodes on its own, I think that the significance of that will truly be historic. If your opposition is destroying itself, I think your job is to stand back and let it.


    GIGOT: You think the danger, James -- Kim, OK, we'll go to you -- the danger with that is the subsidies once they kick in will create a constituency for the bill. More support. And then you'll never be able to repeal it. That's the alternative argument.

    STRASSEL: That is true, and that is the alternative argument. It's the fear.