Thursday, October 3, 2013

None So Blind...

As America enters day three of the government shutdown, with exactly two weeks to go until the much more dangerous debt ceiling default, there are plenty of reasons for pessimism - and we've likely said, heard, or read most of them in the past three days.

The facts on the shutdown remain stubbornly the same. Congressional Democrats and President Obama are still waiting for a "clean" continuing resolution to get passed by the GOP-led House. A relatively  small group of right-wing extremists in the House continue to hold Speaker John Boehner as an ideological hostage, refusing to let him put a clear CR up for whole House vote - mostly because they know it would pass without their small number of votes.

For now, we think Brian Beutler and Jamelle Bouie have it right - that GOP moderates should stop the whining of their more extreme party members, reopen the government, and take their lumps for throwing in with the insane fools of the tea bag right. At least they'd be able to get affordable health care for their lumps, thanks to the opening of the health insurance marketplaces at healthcare.gov.

For all the preaching against Obamacare from those on the right, the real truth already appears to be that Americans are loving the opportunity to get decent health insurance that isn't robbing them blind.

In the first day of the health insurance exchanges being open, the Health and Human Services Department counted 4.7 million visits to Obamacare websites across the nation. As Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post's Wonkblog pointed out, the biggest problems for the rollout of the Affordable Care Act aren't glitches, but overwhelming web traffic, as millions of Americans for the first time ever check to see if they can get a better deal on their health insurance.

Reports like those from Ms. Kliff or Sy Mukherjee continue to relate stories of people who will save thousands of dollars annually on their health insurance costs, thanks to Obamacare. Even as the right-wing media harps on about glitches, as Jonathan Cohn makes clear in The New Republic, those glitches matter far less than you think.

What matters, actually, is what we and so many others have pointed out recently - that the GOP is willing to stake its very existence in a losing battle to stop Obamacare, because they're terrified people will like it. As Henry Blodget outlines in his piece at Business Insider, Republicans have a whole grab bag of reasons to fear the success of Obamacare.

The biggest single reason that we believe Republicans continue to inveigh against Obamacare, even as the incredibly important debt ceiling looms, and the federal government remains shut down, is that they fear most Americans will realize the truth.

Once Americans realize they can always get affordable health insurance without being tied down to a specific job, employers everywhere will no longer be able to control their workers via the prospect of taking away that coverage. Americans will love that they're free to be employed where they want, how they want - and they'll still have affordable health insurance, regardless of how their bosses act.

In other words, Americans will be more free - and Republicans will be revealed as the political party that kept affordable care away from Americans for most of the last century.

No wonder Republicans are afraid Americans will like Obamacare so much.