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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Multifaceted Obamacare Sabotage Campaign Shows GOP Contempt for Democracy

At Politico you will find a surprisingly excellent update on “The Obamacare Sabotage Campaign” by Todd S. Purdum. It’s surprising, not because of Purdum’s fine reporting, but because Politico has been a little soft on the Obamacare-bashers. Purdum, however, is not giving any free rides:

To the undisputed reasons for Obamacare’s rocky rollout — a balky website, muddied White House messaging and sudden sticker shock for individuals forced to buy more expensive health insurance — add a less acknowledged cause: calculated sabotage by Republicans at every step.
…From the moment the bill was introduced, Republican leaders in both houses of Congress announced their intention to kill it. Republican troops pressed this cause all the way to the Supreme Court — which upheld the law, but weakened a key part of it by giving states the option to reject an expansion of Medicaid. The GOP faithful then kept up their crusade past the president’s reelection, in a pattern of “massive resistance” not seen since the Southern states’ defiance of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.
The opposition was strategic from the start: Derail President Barack Obama’s biggest ambition, and derail Obama himself. Party leaders enforced discipline, withholding any support for the new law — which passed with only Democratic votes, thus undermining its acceptance…
…But the bitter fight over passage was only the beginning of the war to stop Obamacare. Most Republican governors declined to create their own state insurance exchanges — an option inserted in the bill in the Senate to appeal to the classic conservative preference for local control — forcing the federal government to take at least partial responsibility for creating marketplaces serving 36 states — far more than ever intended…Then congressional Republicans refused repeatedly to appropriate dedicated funds to do all that extra work, leaving the Health and Human Services Department and other agencies to cobble together HealthCare.gov by redirecting funds from existing programs.

The Republicans have been no less obstructionist in sabotaging the ACA in the states. As Purdum notes, “On top of that, nearly half of the states declined to expand their Medicaid programs using federal funds, as the law envisioned…Then, in the months leading up to the program’s debut, some states refused to do anything at all to educate the public about the law. And congressional Republicans sent so many burdensome queries to local hospitals and nonprofits gearing up to help consumers navigate the new system face-to-face that at least two such groups returned their federal grants and gave up the effort.”
Purdum goes on to document the Republican sabotage, not just in congress and the states, but also the Republican-dominated courts and the media. “When the White House let it be known last summer that it was in talks with the National Football League to enlist star athletes to help promote the law, the Senate’s top two Republicans sent the league an ominous letter wondering why it would “risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand.” The NFL backed off.
it’s a shameful litany for the GOP. Sure, they have used lax enforcement of progressive legislation before, most notably with respect to the Motor Voter act in the states they control –they are also huge on obstructing citizens right to vote. But now they are all about full-frontal sabotage of the law of the land on a scale that calls into question their commitment to democracy itself.

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