Republicans are in complete disarray

John Boehner, Barack ObamaThe mess the GOP has created for itself over the Affordable Care Act is really just one part of the complete failure of the Republican Party since the end of the Bush administration.

Republicans used fear of terrorism to support the pointless occupation of Iraq and all they have to show for it is that they lost their reputation as the party of national security and turned the public against the endless wars the GOP gave us in the first place.

They made promises in 2010 that they couldn’t keep, like massive cuts to federal spending, more tax cuts for the rich, deregulation sprees for Wall Street and Big Pollution, and repealing the ACA.

Nearly all those promises have been broken.

Despite support from GOP leaders like Eric Cantor and John Boehner, and vigorous support from Bush-era neo-conservative hawks, the war-that-would-be in Syria fell apart before it ever began.

Federal spending growth has been completely halted, but that happened before Republicans regained power in the 2010 mid-term elections. Democrats did that while they still controlled both chambers.

Although some of the GOP’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the rich — responsible for hundreds of billions in federal deficits — were extended, a serious chunk of them were allowed to expire in a deal between the Democratic Party and a handful of moderate Republicans in the House.

Wall Street has been further deregulated and shame on everyone in the federal government for making another financial crisis more likely.

And then there’s the Affordable Care Act. Republicans insisted loudly that it was unconstitutional, and they were wrong. They said it was a government takeover of health care, and that was a lie. They promised they would repeal it if given power, and they haven’t.

Polls show that a slim majority of Americans don’t like the ACA. But other polls show that a lot of people don’t even understand that the Affordable Care Act is what people are calling Obamacare. A Fox News poll showed an eight point jump in approval amongst Republicans when called the Affordable Care Act, rather than Obamacare. Polls as far back as 2009 when it was still being written showed overwhelming support for all provisions of the ACA, except the insurance mandate — a Republican idea from the Heritage Foundation. Yet more polls have shown that as many as a quarter of the people that oppose the ACA only feel that way because it didn’t go far enough. Make it more liberal and majority support for the law suddenly appears.

And that’s on top of polls showing that a solid majority of people, while not liking the law, don’t want it repealed. They want it improved.

When you boil it down, the only thing the public agrees with the GOP on about Obamacare is hating the insurance mandate, which has been a GOP idea all along.

The Republican Party is so detached from public opinion and the reality of their limited power in Congress that even staunch conservatives are mocking this circus:

So, the House has voted for a government spending bill that defunds Obamacare. Next step: Get it through the Senate, right?

Wrong. In fact, if you vote to bring this House-passed “defund” bill to the Senate floor, you’re actually helping to fund Obamacare, according to the most vocal proponents of the “defund” strategy. No, I’m not making this up. That’s the actual plan.

The “defund” bill doesn’t have the votes to clear the Senate. Even worse, if the “defund” bill ever gets cloture in the Senate and makes it to the floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., can simply use a “motion to strike” in order to remove the defunding provision on the floor with a simple majority, then pass a bill funding the government and send it back to the House. Rather than try to win (or at least force) a vote on defunding Obamacare, “defund” proponents are now calling for conservative Senators to block the very “defund Obamacare” bill that just passed the House.

This plan is right out of Alice in Wonderland. You need to prevent a vote on defunding Obamacare in order to defund Obamacare.

This is why Republicans are threatening to shut down the government, a strategy that polls have shown would be disastrous with the public blaming Republicans for anything bad that comes as a result. They don’t have the power or votes to get this done, so all they’ve got left is extortion.

They’ll harm the country by shutting down the government unless/until Democrats cave and vote to repeal their greatest legislative victory since Medicare and Social Security, the true third pillar of the Great Society.

But then we come back around to polls showing that Republicans will take nearly all the blame for a shutdown, which could be just enough to cost them the House in 2014. And the ACA will keep on moving, shutdown or not.

That party really and truly has gone off the deep end. Their fanatical hatred of the ACA, a fundamentally good law that is going to help tens of millions of Americans have better lives through affordable access to health care, is reaching Ahab levels. I’m not a historian, granted, but I can’t think of any time in American history when one party was this fanatical about undermining their own government, and to the detriment of the American people at the same time.

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