Shutdown, debt ceiling
really serious problems
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Losing hope of retaking majority. Click image to enlarge.
IN A DELICIOUS twist of fate, the Republican Party has missed a huge opportunity to capitalize on its opposition to the Affordable Healthcare Act and in fact has helped conceal its disastrous rollout.
Perhaps unintentionally, the point was driven home by two seemingly unrelated stories on the front page of the national edition of The New York Times.
The lead story was all about the horrendous beginning to Obamacare. Right next to it, in print, the political damage done to the GOP by the continuing government shutdown.
The two are closely related, however.
THE DAMAGE Republicans have done to themselves over the shutdown of the federal government seems likely to come back to haunt them in the 2014 mid-term elections.
There have been increasing signs that the rollout of Obamacare has been less than stellar.
We reported before that what scared the Republicans most was that it would be successful.
We did so Oct. 5 in GOP’s worst nightmares turning into harsh reality when the new system first became operational.
The New York Times story about the Obamacare disaster. Click image to enlarge.
But the Sunday story From the Start, Signs of Trouble at Health Portal went into great detail about its failings – and their history.
Robert Pear, Sharon Lafraniere And Ian Austen report:
“For the past 12 days, a system costing more than $400 million and billed as a one-stop click-and-go hub for citizens seeking health insurance has thwarted the efforts of millions to simply log in. The growing national outcry has deeply embarrassed the White House, which has refused to say how many people have enrolled through the federal exchange.”
It could, of course, have been much worse if the headlines were not screaming about the government “shutstorm,” as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart so hilariously called it last week.
“Even some supporters of the Affordable Care Act worry that the flaws in the system, if not quickly fixed, could threaten the fiscal health of the insurance initiative, which depends on throngs of customers to spread the risk and keep prices low,” The New York Times reports.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart got it right with this graphic. Click image to enlarge.
This train wreck was a long time in the making and foreseen by many on the inside.
“By early this year, people inside and outside the federal bureaucracy were raising red flags,” we learn.
“We foresee a train wreck,” an insurance executive working on information technology said in a February interview.”
That was nine months ago!
And it was not fixed in time. “Many users of the federal exchange were stuck at square one.
“The serious technical problems threaten to obscure what some see as a nationwide demonstration of a desire for more affordable health insurance.”
UNTIL SUNDAY, most Americans have been inundated with news about the federal government shutdown. The Obamacare disaster had been mostly out of sight.
And public opinion polls indicate the Republican Party is taking a drubbing over the shutdown and approaching debt-ceiling crisis.
This was the focus of the off-lead story in The new York Times on Sunday headlined G.O.P.’s Hopes to Take Senate Are Dimming.
The New York Times story about the GOP in the Senate. Click image to enlarge.
“Next year was supposed to be a prime opportunity for Republicans to retake the Senate,” Jeremy W. Peters reports.
“And for a while, everything seemed to be breaking their way…
“Then the government shut down. Now, instead of sharpening their attacks on Democrats, Republicans on Capitol Hill are being forced to explain why they are not to blame and why Americans should trust them to govern both houses of Congress when the one they do run is in such disarray.”
The GOP shut the government down over Obamacare, and now it is taking a beating while it should be soaring over the problems with the new healthcare program.
“Complicating the prospects,” Peters adds, “the grass-roots political force that has provided so much of the energy for conservative victories over the last four years — the Tea Party — is aggressively working against Republicans it considers not conservative enough.
“As a result, many Republicans are openly worrying that the fallout from the fiscal battles paralyzing the capital will hit hardest not in the House, which seems safely in Republican hands thanks to carefully redrawn districts, but in the Senate. Republican infighting, they say, has given Democrats the cover they need to deflect blame and keep their majority.”
Ah, but it may affect the House as well.
It could happen in either or both of two different ways.
Sure, most Republicans are in safely conservative gerrymandered districts. But incumbents could face challenges from their left and their right.
There have been numerous reports since the shutdown began that moderate Republicans were planning to attack Tea Party stalwarts in the primaries.
Meanwhile, the Tea Party and its cohorts – funded mostly by the Koch brothers – have been denouncing moderates in ads targeted at their districts.
It’s shaping up as a fascinating mid-term election. Historically, the party out of power should romp to victory. It happened in 2010.
However, if it is riven by internecine warfare, the 2014 outcome could prove to be an outlier.
That would be good news for everyone – except the GOP.
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