WASHINGTON — House Republicans are flailing around trying to find a way out of the government shutdown, and to rationalize how they got us all into this pickle in the first places. They’re tried out a number of arguments to explain why they’re taking the country to the brink. We’ve identified the top five, and we leave it to you readers to weight the merits, and the risk-versus-benefit of the GOP’s strategy.
Number one out of the gate was the Republican insistence that everyone negotiates the terms of continuing resolutions to fund the government, and the raising of the debt ceiling, which has been done 45 times since Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president. They’re right that negotiations routinely take place about spending levels, but never before has a minority of a minority party in Congress attempted to use the process to negate an existing law that passed both houses of Congress, was signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, and ratified in the presidential election with President Obama’s decisive victory at the ballot box.
Number two is the assertion by freshmen members of Congress on the Republican side that they never had a chance to vote on Obamacare. That’s because they were not then in Congress. Neither were they there when Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security were passed. Meanwhile, the House leadership scheduled some 40 votes on Obamacare after the fact, just so they could express themselves. But that’s not enough, they say. They were elected in 2010 on a platform of repealing Obamacare, and they feel compelled to do everything humanly and legislatively possible to fulfill their promise. Never mind that their goal is futile as long as Democrats control the Senate and Obama has his veto pen. If they wait until they win the majority in the Senate and take back the White House, Obamacare will have taken root and people will like it, just as they do Social Security and Medicare and prescription drug coverage.
Third, Republicans point to the difficulties people are having in accessing the health care exchanges. Some of the systems crashed and even when they were back up and running, there were long wait times. Maybe Republicans should go back to school and learn there’s not always a direct link between cause and effect. Critics of Obamacare should at least consider the argument that the systems crashed because the idea of being able to get affordable health care coverage for themselves and their families is so popular that the sheer numbers overwhelmed the infrastructure that was created. It’s a fair point to say the private consultants who did the work should have anticipated the numbers, but they didn’t, and are now in the process of fixing the glitches. Obama pointed out that even the vaunted company of Apple had trouble rolling out their latest iPhone, and nobody suggested Apple shouldn’t sell iPhones anymore or that the company should be shut down.
Fourth, if the government can’t run a web site, how can it run a seventh of the economy, which is how big the health industry in in this country? Again, opening week jitters on the health exchanges does not make Obamacare a bad law. See above on cause and effect.
Lastly, and while this is the most tenuous argument, it is also the most passionately embraced. It’s just four words: Obama is a socialist. And for those who believe that, they don’t even need any of the other reasons to oppose Obamacare. It’s more of an emotional reaction than anything based on facts.
But you can tell them that any insurance coverage provided by private, profit-making companies by definition is not socialism, and that the Obamacare model is based on work done by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and embraced by former Gov. Mitt Romney when he designed his plan for Massachusetts. Last time we checked Romney was a Republican.
In the end, these are not arguments; these are pleas; desperations; or, more charitably: five funny reasons.
U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.