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The Politics of Defunding Obamacare Play Out [Updated]

The Democrats are using the House’s effort to defund Obamacare to raise money. This email, ostensibly from Nancy Pelosi, went out a few hours ago:

From: Nancy Pelosi
Sent: Friday, September 20, 2013 3:51 PM
To: Hinderaker, John H.
Subject: This morning’s vote:

John –

This morning, Speaker Boehner and House Republicans PASSED a bill that would threaten a government shutdown in order to put insurance companies back in charge of your health care. It’s despicable.

The GOP bill doesn’t “threaten a government shutdown,” of course. And note how the Democrats try to frame the Obamacare battle: Republicans want to “put insurance companies back in charge of your health care.” But the insurance carriers lobbied heavily in favor of Obamacare. Unspoken, but strongly implied, is the real purpose of Obamacare–to put the government in charge of your health care.

But I’m actually writing to pass along some good news:

In the last 48 hours, over 25,000 of you have donated over $400,000 to take on the Republicans. Speaker Boehner surely wasn’t expecting this kind of grassroots response!

Will you help us hit the $500,000 mark before Congress leaves town tonight?

DEADLINE MIDNIGHT: Give $3 or more right now to fight back against Republican legislative arsonists >>

“Republican legislative arsonists.” These people are utterly crazed.

What happens over the next few days will determine if Boehner and the right-wing fringe succeed in their attempt to wreak havoc on President Obama’s second term. Let’s send a reverberating message to Speaker Boehner: the Affordable Care Act isn’t going anywhere.

http://dccc.org/Midnight-Deadline

Thanks,

Nancy

The lines, as they say, are clearly drawn. But, while there is always a chance that events could take an unexpected turn, isn’t the outcome of this drama predictable? The Senate will pass a continuing resolution that includes Obamacare. At that point, after a little grandstanding, the Republican House will graciously accept the Senate resolution in order to avoid a shutdown. The effect is that Democrats in both the House and the Senate have been forced to go on record in favor of Obamacare.

The Republican leadership thinks this is a desirable goal. Why? For at least two reasons. First, some Congressional Democrats were not in office when the ACA passed, and haven’t yet cast a vote on it. Second, it was one thing to vote for Obamacare when no one had read the bill, and hardly anyone understood what its effects would be. Now, most people understand that Obamacare is a job-killer, a choice-destroyer, and an administrative horror. So there is, I think, something gained when Democrats are compelled to hold their noses and vote for the noxious law one more time.

The net effect of all of this is a modest gain for Republicans. They will get credit for a politically popular effort to get rid of the hated ACA, and only the staunchest partisans (who, of course, aren’t going anywhere else on election day) will blame them for failing, in the face of a Democratic Senate and President. This represents an easy, if hardly decisive, win for the GOP.

UPDATE: Traditionally, voters have trusted Republicans more on “hard” issues–national security, taxes, the economy–and Democrats more on “soft” issues–education, the environment and health care. So it is noteworthy that, despite ceaseless attacks in the Democratic press, Scott Rasmussen finds that voters trust Republicans over Democrats on health care by 43%-42%. That’s a tie, of course, but it must reflect the public’s dissatisfaction with Obamacare. Republicans can push their advantage by continuing to pound away at Obamacare, as the House leadership is now doing.

At some point, it will be necessary to repeal Obamacare, not just make political hay out of it. But I am relatively optimistic on that score. I doubt whether a massive transformation as unpopular as Obamacare can, in the end, be jammed down the throats of Americans, who, despite everything, retain a certain instinct for independence.

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