Thursday, May 08, 2014

Obamacare is now a losing issue for Republicans

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Oh, Republicans. So desperate, so very desperate, and yet it's all just slipping away

Republicans struggled to land punches against ObamaCare in a hearing Wednesday, as responses from insurance companies deflated several lines of questioning.

Democratic lawmakers were emboldened to defend the Affordable Care Act with renewed vigor and levity, creating a dynamic rarely seen in the debate over ObamaCare.

Adding to the irregularity, exits on the Republican side at a subcommittee hearing led by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) allowed multiple Democrats to speak in a row and let heavy Democratic criticism of Republicans go unanswered, a contrast with the heated exchanges of last fall.

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Republicans were visibly exasperated...

Yes, because reality is not matching up with their ideological bullshit.

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Look, Obamacare is far from perfect, and many of us would prefer a single-payer system, but it was really only a matter of time before those early tech glitches were fixed and the system started working effectively. And it's not just working effectively, it's working brilliantly, and should just keep getting better and better as more and more people sign up and costs continue coming down. 

Which is why it's always seemed crazy to me that Democrats would try to run away from it instead of embracing it. The fact is, while Obamacare may be toxic to Republicans, and while some Democrats in red or reddish or otherwise swing districts may be concerned about being too closely connected to it, Obamacare is the signature achievement of this Democratic president. And that means it's seen as a major Democratic achievement. And so if you're a Democrat, you're on board whether you like it or not. Even if you think you can run away from it, you'll never be able to match Republican extremism in opposition to it.

There is political calculation involved, but there is also myopia and, worse, cowardice as well. Many Democrats tried to take cover when the glitches hit and that's all the media could focus on. But they were going to be fixed. And while maybe you couldn't quite predict just how successful Obamacare would be this early on, why bet on failure? Why not embrace it and hope, given expectations, that it would work out?

And look what's happening now. Republicans thought they had the one issue that would bring down the Democrats in November. They wouldn't have to provide policy alternatives on this or any other issue, not in any meaningful way. They wouldn't have to wear their ideological extremism. Instead, they could run against Obamacare while backing it up with various other "scandals" (like Benghazi and the IRS) to paint Democrats as corrupt and anti-American.

But with Obamacare working, that's gone, and all that's left is Republicans getting more and more desperate in their claims and turning more aggressively to the ridiculousness of their Benghazi and IRS obsessions.

That was on display yesterday in that hearing, and it provides an opening for Democrats to reclaim the political advantage heading into November. They just need to put their myopia and cowardice aside by embracking, and running proudly on, Obamacare.

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