Obamacare disaster looms, but for whom? (Hint: the GOP)

As the nation possibly slides into yet another war, the Republicans are keeping their focus on the important stuff: Passing House resolutions to repeal Obamacare (40 to date), and plotting to hold the economy hostage in order to defund Obamacare.

Conspicuously absent from these discussions is an explanation of what would happen should the dog actually manage to catch the car.

Calling for the repeal of Obamacare is easy, but what would take its place? The insurance exchanges open for business on October 1st, and the personal mandate comes into effect on 1st January. Businesses have been planning for the rollout of Obamacare for the past four years, they have made business decisions predicated on Obamacare taking effect. Changing the rules with less than four months to go would throw the whole industry into chaos.

And it will certainly damage the economy if GOP brinksmanship forces the Treasury to default on US bonds, but the effects of defunding or repealing Obamacare would actually be much worse. The effect of a Treasury default would at least be fixable and limited in duration, and the administration has tools that allow the damage to be mitigated. Markets can only panic, banks can only face runs when they are open.

Last time the GOP tried to hold the debt limit hostage, the administration finessed the GOP into accepting (no demanding) major cuts in the bloated military budget, a prize the administration could not have won otherwise. As a political matter, the question of default is not whether it would damage the country, but who would be blamed for the damage caused.

By the time the debt limit crisis hits, people will already be shopping for insurance on the exchanges. Journalists working the personal finance beat will be churning out easy stories comparing the plans on offer. Democrats will be holding press calls in hospitals up and down the country as they help desperately sick constituents get real health insurance for the first time ever.

This is the real worry for the Republicans. By personalizing health care reform as ‘Obamacare,’ they have given the Democrats what threatens to become an enduring political brand. Obamacare would have been Obama’s political epitaph if Republicans had succeeded in preventing Al Franken taking his seat, and provided the crucial 60th vote to break the Senate filibuster. But next year, at least one person in ten living in America will be getting their health care from ‘Obamacare,’ and those numbers will rise year on year as the scheme expands. And those Obamacare winners are likely to be concentrated in the Red states, where poverty and ‘right to work’ union-busting legislation leaves a larger proportion of the population uninsured.

Republicans are right that Obamacare will be a disaster. But it will be a disaster for one of the political parties (them), rather than the country.

Common sense would suggest that forcing the US Treasury to default in a last minute attempt effort to stop Obamacare will only increase the value of the  brand. A Treasury default would be a national crisis. What do countries do in times of crisis? In the United States, the country rallies to its President. George W. Bush’s reaction to 9/11 was the most miserable, incompetent performance by any world leader spending ten minutes reading ‘My Pet Goat’ to a kindergarten class, then wandering around aimlessly in Air Force One. But the country rallied to him all the same because in times of crisis the country needs to believe the President can lead.

Reacting to a national crisis is actually quite easy because almost any measure that is bold and decisive will be praised regardless of whether it makes sense. If the Treasury default threatens the markets then sends an order to the SEC to shut down the bourse. Tell the Fed to close the banks as well.

Shutting down Wall Street would be dramatic, but hardly catastrophic and few people would want to risk re-opening them until Congress had passed legislation to pay the debts and eliminate the possibility of future defaults. Republican politicians would appear on the talks shows with bulging eyes and puffy red cheeks to heap blame on the Democrats. But the country would rally round the President as it always will.

The deeper the House Republicans dig in, the greater the political cost of their eventual capitulation. A split in the House GOP is inevitable as there is no other way to pass a bill. But will the moderates who put the good faith and credit of the United States before compliance with a lunatic ideology go quietly or hold their ground? Letting the Koch Brothers primary them with Tea Party challengers is not their only option.

The logical next step for the Tea Party after losing the default standoff is to attempt impeachment. They are spoiled children playing with matches.

Common sense says that this is a fight that Obama is sure to win provided only that he keeps his nerve. But common sense has proved a very poor guide to predicting Republican behavior.

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  • sane37

    maybe Obama should switch parties and become a RINO.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Without question but so are the Democrats whose president ordered the racist murders of Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir
    Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammedor and who are about to kill more civilians to bring down Hussein Quadaffi Assad.

  • ArthurH

    Maybe Obama needs to use reverse psychology on the GOP by selling the ACA as keeping people healthy and longer lived, thus creating a surplus of people needing jobs who will be glad to take minimum wage jobs at businesses owned by the billionaires and hedge fund people that finance their political campaigns.

  • MyrddinWilt

    I really don’t know if that is true. Did Obama really fold his hand on the last debt limit crisis or did he get the GOP to throw him into the briar patch? Is Obama really a progressive who can’t get what he wants because he doesn’t get tough with the GOP or is he a center right President like Bill Clinton was who is actually rather better at getting what he really wants?

    The problem with getting tough on the GOP is we really don’t know the results will be any better. This is a political party that has decided that the best way to win an election is to intentionally sabotage the economy and stop a quarter of the country casting ballots if possible. Talking about getting tough on the GOP is like talking about getting tough on North Korea, its empty rhetoric predicated on the assumption that the other side is capable of a rational understanding of their best interests despite all evidence to the contrary.

    The GOP strategists have read somewhere that the state of the economy is the best predictor of the outcome of a presidential election. But that prediction is based on observations made when both parties were trying their best to make the economy better. According to precedent Romney should have had a good chance of winning in 2012. The reason he lost is that people didn’t think he had any interest in improving the economy for people like them.

  • Torrance

    The Republicans had Obama right in the palms of their hands. He wants funding for Syria, they could have bargained that he must repeal his horrible Obamacare and THEN he will receive some funding.

  • Rob Dowdy

    That 43rd repeal vote will be the one! I have a good feeling this time …

  • Rob Dowdy

    They certainly meet the definition of a hate group as defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center: a hate group includes those having beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

    Also the FBI: a hate group’s “primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization.”

    I mean, they are pretty much defined by two things: the inverse Robin Hood theory of wealth redistribution and the people they hate: the “47%”, gays, “illegals” and their anchor babies, blacks, Muslims and assorted other brown people, atheists, libtards, etc.

  • MichaelS

    “Common sense says that this is a fight that Obama is sure to win provided only that he keeps his nerve. But common sense has proved a very poor guide to predicting Republican behavior.”

    Yes, but common sense has also proved a very poor guide to predicting that Obama keeps his nerve…

  • http://poodyheads.wordpress.com/ zorbear

    past time…
    :-|

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Absolutely agree

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    The GOP has become a clear and present danger to the US. Perhaps it’s time to declare them a terrorist organization.

  • cole3244

    ss, medicare, medicade, and other programs that were created to help the 99% and children, the gop have always been against helping those that need help and in favor of helping those that don’t need any assistance.
    why anyone not in the elite wealthy class would support these ingrates is beyond me but to each their own.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    My ‘death panel’ was the impenetrable brick wall of insurance policy denials based on ridiculous ‘pre-existing conditions’.

    I spent nearly 10 years worrying that my wife would be left bankrupt if I ever got sick or had a bad accident.

    The PPACA is still a mess, and its dependence on the private insurance market remains a major Achilles Heel, but for me, simply having any insurance at all is an improvement. I just hope one day we all come to our senses and demand Medicare for All.

  • SoLeftImRight

    Discussing the repeal of “Obamacare” is quite irrelevant, isn’t it, until at least January 2017, and considering the election of a Republican president, and Republican majorities in the House and Senate at that time? They can waste time and taxpayer money voting in one house to repeal something that the other house will not take up and the president will never sign. If this country believed in any small way in accountability, every one of those morons who continue this insane campaign would be drummed out of office at the next opportunity.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    The GOP’s biggest fear is that people will like at least a good part of ACA. The rest can be fixed at any time.The “nightmare” of Obamacare is always in the future. Some made up feature like death panels that are never going to happen.

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