Although the 535 members of Congress and the President find themselves under a new countdown to reach bipartisan compromises on the Budget and other related issues, the Obamacare fight continues in the background. Republicans have decided to fight smarter and sneakier while Democrats anticipate growing support for provisions of the Affordable Care act coming into effect will protect their legislative accomplishment. In essence, Republicans frame their policy stances as part of a war against the Left and this will be their undoing.
To be blunt, viewing policy and political differences as a war is completely unhelpful, even self-destructive. Certainly, Democrats view many initiatives of the Right in the same manner, but neither side is correct in doing so. Most Americans support liberal policies on some issues and conservative policies on others. It is the activists, i.e. someone constantly in need of a cause to fight and an agenda to push, who can never be satisfied with workable solutions. The bulk of the American People just want policies that work. Quite frankly, whether those policies are liberal or conservative has little to do with what concerns most US Americans. This is why there is a tendency of politicians to illegitimately reframe policies as liberal or conservative as doing so allows the respective groups to adopt sensible solutions from the other side of the spectrum.
Consequently, the real fight with Obamacare resolves around how well the set of policies works. When Republicans say they will win the war against Obamacare through attrition, it does nothing to help the American People. In fact, it makes things worse, because it serves as another example of the GOP simply undermining government and that is worse that a bad policy. Republicans continually tell the world they are going to dismantle Obamacare then complain when Democrats will not accept any of their “commonsense” reforms that they claim will supposedly improve the policies. Quite frankly, the more the Republicans try to undermine Obamacare, the more guarded Democrats become. “Little pig, little pig, let me in….,” says the Big Bad Wolf. So long as the goal of the GOP is to undermine Democratic policies, the Left will allow the Right to make progress on its priorities, thus Obamacare, among other policies, is not reformed to the benefit of the American People and the GOP accomplishes nothing aside from making government more dysfunctional.
Furthermore, Republicans looking to undo the supposed scourge they claim Obamacare to be could focus on making it work or offer the public a comparative replacement legislative effort. Repeal then perhaps replace was always a failed effort; whereas, replace and repeal could work if a better option is put forth. That said, opponents of Obamacare should offer sustainable policy corrections that will not undermine the overall Affordable Care Act. For example, repealing the Medical Device Tax would create a deficit, thus Republicans need to balance it will some other source of revenue in order to assure Democrats their efforts are not aimed at simply destabilizing the healthcare reform law and depriving the American People of the benefits Obamcare provides. That said, there needs to be more transparency on the effects of the tax and how the industry operates.
One of the biggest problems the GOP has is a tendency to portray itself as a special interest group motivated solely by political gain. Back in 2010, Republicans won back the House, because they convinced voters that they were the alternative to Democratic Party. Being the Alternative Party, especially when you end up making government less functional and disrupting people’s lives, is a losing strategy. After all, alternatives to alternatives tend to materialize. The Republicans then made the 2012 election about making Obama a one-term president while they have again decided their mission is to define their Party as against the policy of Obamacare. If too many People derive too much benefit from Obamacare and/or see the GOP as even more destructive than the Democrats, Republicans will weaken.
Digressing back to the issue at hand, Republicans target the individual mandate, because it is deeply unpopular and scares voters. Truthfully, President Obama probably would have delayed the individual mandate had Republicans not politicized the issue and planned to use its delay as a means of undermining the long-term viability of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, he may do just that once enough people have utilized the Health Insurance Marketplace, so it can become viable. The technical issues with the Marketplace may well delay this decision, but he should delay the individual mandate in tandem with the business mandate, especially given the issues coming to light. It only makes sense.
Looking at the Marketplace itself, the technical issues experienced by visits to healthcare.gov are not necessarily a fault of the overall policy that is Obamacare. In many respects, they are analogous to the faulty construction several major contractors delivered as part of the American taxpayer funded reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. These situations demonstrate our government’s need to better manage and monitor contractors while they clearly exemplifying the lack of accountability the US government fosters, which the GOP helps encourage when it undermines the legislative process. In addition, government websites are stereotypically subpar. Although this cliché has been eroded over the past few years thanks to efforts to improve government websites, some bugs should have been expected and the American People need to understand the technical reasons for these faults, so there is accountability to ensure fewer future problems. That said, the website has little to do with any perceived faults in the overall healthcare law.
Moreover, Republicans need to put their name on Obamacare in order to demonstrate they are willing and able to make government more functional. While the American People accepted obstructionism in 2010 to counteract the overzealous agenda of the Left, the mounting damage done by Republican strategies to undermine Obama has become far more threatening than Obamacare and the Leftist agenda. If the GOP can demonstrate it has the ability to make government more functional by working with Democrats on major issues the Budget, tax reform, and their devil Obamacare, they have a chance at reviving their brand. More importantly, the US can move beyond politics to engineer policies that address the interests of the American People. If Republicans can be part of the solution instead of the problem, they have a future in America.
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