Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Eleven False Claims By Republicans About Obamacare and the Shutdown

So we're in a shutdown. No one knows how long it will last: one day, two days, a week, longer, who knows? The irony is that, while the government is closed, the Affordable Care Act, due to the fact that it is exempt from discretionary spending, is actually up and running. All the huffing and puffing by the GOP couldn't stop that.

An awful lot of claims have been and will continue to be made by Republicans as they attempt to deflect the blame away from them, so I thought I would go through each of the main points, one by one.

But first, a shout out to Peter King (R-NY) who called out his party's insane march over the cliff. King was visibly upset by the antics of Ted Cruz and the Tea Party House Republicans. “It’s going nowhere, there’s no end game.  It’s bad for the congress, it's bad for the government, bad for the country. I can’t be party to this anymore.”

This is not the first time King has butted heads with House Republicans. After Superstorm Sandy ravaged New York, he ripped John Boehner and House leadership over their failure to authorize relief funds. King is not alone in his frustration, but unfortunately he's one of the few brave souls who have vocalized it. Kudos to him for making a stand.

Now to the main claims in this dispute:

Claim 1: Democrats aren't willing to compromise.

Fact: In order to agree to a compromise, both sides have to put something of value on the table. The GOP position is that they want Obama and Senate Democrats to accept major changes to the healthcare law in exchange for allowing the government to stay open. They have not put anything substantive on the table. The CR that passed the Senate kept spending at Sequester levels, below where many Democrats wanted. That's not a compromise; it's extortion.

Claim 2: President Obama won't negotiate with Republicans. It's his way or the highway.

Fact: It was Boehner and House Republicans who decided after the 2011 debt-ceiling fiasco to cut off direct negotiation with the White House. In fact, the fiscal cliff deal was hammered out by Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden. Boehner couldn't even get his own caucus to deliver the votes for his Plan-B.

Claim 3: Obamacare is responsible for millions of full-time workers getting bumped to part-time jobs.

Fact: The move of some full-time workers to part-time began in 2009 and is indicative of a weak recovery with low demand. Economists like Paul Krugman have called for more aggressive action to boost demand. The reason employers are opting to go with part-time workers is because they can't justify the hit to their books. As the economy continues to improve, more full-time employees will be hired. There is no evidence that the ACA rollout has any connection to this problem.

Claim 4: Republicans don't want a shutdown.

Fact: A simple trip to youtube will expose this lie. Countless Tea Party Republicans are seen boasting about shutting down the government to thunderous applause. Spare me!

Claim 5: The President has already delayed key elements of his healthcare law. What's the big deal with a one-year delay on his individual mandate?

Fact: The "key" element that Republicans are saying Obama delayed was the employer mandate, which he didn't officially delayed. He simply said the Administration wouldn't enforce it until 2015. At best, it affects roughly 1 percent of employees overall, since an overwhelming majority of them work for companies which already offer healthcare coverage. It is hardly a key element. In fact Ezra Klein in The Washington Post has called for the employer mandate to be repealed.

Claim 6: Obamacare is a "trainwreck" that isn't ready to be launched and therefore should be delayed, defunded or repealed.

Fact: While there are certainly issues with the law that need to be addressed, the law is far from being a trainwreck. In fact, it resembles most legislative endeavors. Rough around the edges and in need of some tweeking. Dismantling it is not necessary or called for. The real concern for Republicans isn't that it's a trainwreck; it's that it just might work. In that event, it's game, set and match for them and they know it. Hence, the frantic obsession with repeal.

Claim 7: Since both sides can't agree to a CR that keeps the government open, a conference committee is the best way to arrive at a compromise.

Fact: For several years all Democrats heard from Republicans was that they hadn't passed a budget. Then in March of this year, the Senate passed one and requested a conference between them and the House to iron out differences between the two. They were denied by Boehner and Senate Republicans who didn't want a compromise. In all, the GOP blocked Democratic attempts to go to conference 18 times.

The simple truth is that the Tea Party faction has been obsessed with the Ryan budget, which actually calls for spending that is below Sequester levels, far from what Democrats were seeking and what a conference committee would've come up with. All of a sudden House Republicans want a conference? And naturally the "compromise" they are seeking will include some kind of concession on Obamacare with no reciprocal concession on spending levels. A true compromise involves both sides giving a little; not a unilateral demand issued at the point of a gun. Harry Reid would've been a fool to accept such terms.

Claim 8: Most people favor repealing Obamacare.

Fact: Not one poll confirms this claim. While the individual mandate remains unpopular, most do not support repealing the law. In fact, a CBS/NY Times poll showed that 56 percent of respondents favor fixing the law so it works vs. 38 percent who favor defunding it.

Claim 9: Repealing the tax on medical devices has wide-spread support among Republicans and Democrats and should be done.

Fact: While it is certainly true that the tax is unpopular, it also provides badly needed revenue to help make the law revenue neutral. If it is repealed, Congress will have to come up with another way to offset it. Fat chance that happening. This tax should be properly dealt with in a budget committee, not on the eve of a government shutdown.

Claim 10: Obama will negotiate with the President of Iran, but not with House Republicans.

Fact: Maybe that's because Obama isn't being dictated to by Iran. If anything, the reason for the recent overture by the Iranian President is because the tough sanctions against his country are beginning to take their toll and he knows full well that it is pointless for Iran to continue to hold onto its hardline positions any longer. It's called leverage and Obama is using it rather effectively, I might add. If anything, Boehner and company should be taking notes.

Claim 11: Both sides are equally to blame here.

Fact: While there are certainly times when it is appropriate to say a pox on both your houses, this isn't one of them. Both sides are not equally wrong. One side has agreed to spending levels below where their caucus would like them and the other has brought about a government shutdown because it couldn't get the President to give up his key legislative accomplishment. Jon Stewart summed it up best when he said, "This is when someone is driving to work and there's a car coming directly at them in their lane. That's not a game of chicken; that's an asshole causing a head-on collision."







Links: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/01/peter-king-i-did-my-best-to-fight-the-cruz-crazies.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/obamacare-polls_n_4018888.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/07/02/obamacares-employer-mandate-shouldnt-be-delayed-it-should-be-repealed/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/30/jon-stewart-on-govt-shutdown_n_4020581.html

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