As you may know, the Republicans are threatening to shut down the entire US government, permanently, unless President Obama agrees to completely defund health care reform.
The Republicans’ urgency is understandable. In a little under two weeks, the Obamacare exchanges go into effect, and many Americans might just find that their insurance costs will go down, while their coverage will go up. And the GOP can’t have that. After all, as comedian Stephen Colbert said on his show last night, “The most dangerous thing about Obamacare is that people might like it.”
If the Republicans actually cared about health care, actually cared about our health, they’d let the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) go into effect in two weeks, and let people see if things are better or worse. If things are better, great. If they’re worse, we can always repeal it. The only reason for any urgency right now is that the Republicans are actually afraid, as Colbert notes, that people might like what they find once health care reform begins to be fully implemented.
Of course, all is not well in GOP-land. While the US House has diligently passed its 42nd or so health care reform repeal, Senate Republicans, known for being relatively sane, are squirming at the notion of launching a filibuster in order to defend their repeal effort. Most notably, GOP “Tea Party” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has been famously undercutting the House Obamacare-defunding effort for a while now, particularly this week.
Of course, Cruz isn’t the only Republicans waffling on the government shutdown. The House GOP leadership called the plan crazy, only to then push Republicans in the House to vote for it. This is more evidence of the fact that the crazy now controls the Republican party in America. It began with the religious right, and now in addition to the Bible crazies, the GOP has to deal with the budget crazies (and more generally, crazy crazies) as well.
A new Washington Post poll shows the problem the GOP is facing. While the Post tried to spin the poll as bad for the President, I think it’s actually bad for Republicans. Yes, half of the public is opposed to health care reform, though as always no one has any idea what the law actually does, so their disapproval is substantively irrelevant. We need to see what the law actually does before anyone’s approval or disapproval can hold water.
But here’s the problem. The poll shows that half of those who oppose the law want the government shutdown in order to defund it. But that’s only around 1/4 of the American people overall. That’s hardly stunning support for a defund. You can get 1/4 of the American people to support anything. Getting 50% is an entirely other matter.
Now, that doesn’t mean the Democrats are doing their job in educating the public about the ACA. They haven’t, and still aren’t. But hopefully once the law goes into effect, people will learn that the law is actually doing good things (assuming it does). Nonetheless, Dems had better stay on their toes. Republicans are awfully good at lying. They’ve proven that already with health care reform, with the stimulus, and more. They don’t govern terribly well, but they do lie exceedingly well. Democrats are going to have to up their game if they’re going to convince Americans of how good the ACA is, or can be. (Again, assuming it is. If it’s not, we can repeal it later. But why not wait until we see what it actually does?)
And as I’ve noted repeatedly, the biggest danger today’s GOP faces on any issue – be it the economy, taxes, climate change, education, civil rights, or overall government spending – is the truth.