Survey says nearly three fourths of the population thinks the GOP’s tactic is a bad idea
By Doug Porter
The crapola has hit the fanola. Eight hundred thousand Americans are officially furloughed. Another million or so are being asked to come to work without pay.
Why? Because Congress passed a health care law after debating it for 18 months. The President signed the law. The Supreme Court (mostly) upheld the Constitutionality of the law. And now a group of three dozen or so extremists in the House of Representatives say “no way”.
With substantive financial backing from another three dozen or so big money donors, these extremist Republicans are threatening their own party members with reprisals should they not accede to their demands.
A straight up or down vote to continue government operations would, by all accounts, pass both chambers of Congress. In the meantime, Congress gets paid, even if the have to get their own towels in the gym and the gift shop is closed down.
Yet the Daily Fishwrap in San Diego calls the shutdown of the federal government a failure of leadership on the part of the President. Using the talking points being promulgated by Fox news, they say that a President who’s willing to negotiate with Iran and Russia ought to be willing to at least talk to Congress.
Maybe, as the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart noted last night, it’s the Republicans who, by comparison with the Iranians and the Russians, are unreasonable.
Today’s UT-San Diego editorial also repeats the GOP fantasy that the Affordable Care Act is about to “collapse under its unworkable weight”. If that’s true, shouldn’t they just let it happen? Could another Democrat get elected for President in the foreseeable future if that’s true?
Today’s paper also features a predictable “poll”. A plurality say it’s the President’s fault. The question of whether or not the government should be shut down isn’t even asked.
Bloomberg News, which has considerably more credibility and resources, also has a poll, one that asks the relevant questions:
In a rejection of congressional Republicans’ strategy, Americans overwhelmingly oppose undermining President Barack Obama’s health-care law by shutting down the federal government or resisting an increase in the nation’s debt limit, according to a poll released today.
By 72 percent to 22 percent, Americans oppose Congress “shutting down major activities of the federal government” as a way to stop the Affordable Care Act from going into effect, the national survey from Quinnipiac University found.
By 64 percent to 27 percent, voters don’t want Congress to block an increase in the nation’s $16.7 trillion federal borrowing limit as a way to thwart implementation of the health-care law, which Obama signed into law in 2010 with a goal of insuring millions of Americans, known as “Obamacare.”
A majority of the public, 58 percent, is opposed to cutting off funding for the insurance program that begins enrollment today. Thirty-four percent support defunding it.
The Affordable Care Act Rolls Out
As of this morning millions of Americans who are unable to get insurance through their workplace will have access to a variety of health plans at affordable prices. They’ll be able to shop through insurance marketplaces that allow consumers to compare plans side by side along with pricing.
For the first time health plans must meet new basic standards and companies are prohibited from turning away consumers with preexisting medical conditions. Low- and moderate-income people who make less than four times the federal poverty level — or about $46,000 — will qualify for government subsidies to help with their premiums.
The United States will become the last industrialized nation in the world to offer its citizens affordable access to healthcare. Obamacare may not be perfect (I still advocate for a single payer system), but it’s 100% better than any GOP plan that’s made it past the press conference stage.
From today’s LA Times:
Three and a half years after President Obama signed his landmark healthcare law, his administration made its final preparations Monday to begin enrolling millions of Americans in health insurance amid persistent anxiety over possible technical problems and intense opposition from Republican critics.
Administration officials emphasized that a government shutdown would not prevent the federal website for enrolling in health coverage — http://www.healthcare.gov — from going live at 8 a.m Eastern time Tuesday, allowing consumers to begin signing up for plans.
Officials in most states that are running their own online insurance marketplaces — including California, Connecticut and Maryland — are also planning to open for business Tuesday. And call centers set up to handle consumer questions through the government’s 1-800-318-2596 hotline are scheduled to be open for business.
“The Affordable Care Act is moving forward,” Obama told reporters at the White House on Monday. “You can’t shut it down.”
From today’s Washington Post:
People seeking to buy health insurance on the federal marketplace will be able to enter personal information, including their incomes and Social Security numbers; learn how much government assistance they might qualify for, if any; search for plans by price and coverage level; and then purchase a plan directly from the insurance company.
But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a briefing with reporters, pleaded for patience, acknowledging there would probably be some glitches in the coming days and weeks as the administration moves forward on the sweeping program known as Obamacare. She likened the inevitable fixes to software updates on Apple products such as the iPhone or iPad.
The chatter coming out of Washington DC is that this government shut down will last for a week or more. The President is reportedly canceling a diplomatic trip to Asia. And coming up behind this current stalemate is a deadline for raising the debt limit ceiling on or about October 17th. GOP obstinacy lasting that long could seriously endanger the economic and political future of the country, as Paul Krugman explains in today’sNew York Times:
So how does this end? The votes to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling are there, and always have been: every Democrat in the House would vote for the necessary measures, and so would enough Republicans. The problem is that G.O.P. leaders, fearing the wrath of the radicals, haven’t been willing to allow such votes. What would change their minds?
Ironically, considering who got us into our economic mess, the most plausible answer is that Wall Street will come to the rescue — that the big money will tell Republican leaders that they have to put an end to the nonsense.
But what if even the plutocrats lack the power to rein in the radicals? In that case, Mr. Obama will either let default happen or find some way of defying the blackmailers, trading a financial crisis for a constitutional crisis.
This all sounds crazy, because it is. But the craziness, ultimately, resides not in the situation but in the minds of our politicians and the people who vote for them. Default is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
Do yourselves and the country a favor. Pick up the phone, send an email, send a snail mail.
Excerpted from daily The Starting Line column at San Diego Free Press