“The American people don’t want the government to shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people.” So said House Speaker John Boehner last week after the House, which he leads mostly in name, approved a spending bill that eliminated funding for the Affordable Care Act and pushed Congress — again — toward a government shutdown.
Another high-profile Republican, Arizona Sen. John McCain, took a more practical and constructive approach in remarks Tuesday. Said Sen. McCain: “I don’t know what all the scenes are, but I’ve seen how this movie ends. We will end up not shutting down the government, and we will not defund Obamacare.”
We hope Sen. McCain is right. A government shutdown’s consequences would be entirely negative, perhaps severely so. And although millions of Americans don’t fully understand Obamacare, defunding it at this stage would be folly.
That effort is as much driven by some Republicans’ desire to destroy what remains of the Obama presidency as it is by flaws in the health care law that is President Obama’s signature achievement.
Republicans would be wiser to stifle Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a tea-party champion whose willingness to shut down the government is downright chilling. His rhetoric on Obamacare is shrill in the extreme; he has likened his effort to the fight against the Nazis and to President Kennedy’s vow to land an American on the moon.
He’s wrong, however, in asserting, “Everyone in America knows Obamacare is destroying the economy.” Neither its short-term nor long-term impact on the economy is known. Yet Republicans who are trying to persuade healthy young Americans not to participate in Obamacare in order to cut a funding source vital to its success are not doing the economy or those young Americans any sort of service.
Americans are unsure about Obamacare in part because they can’t get the truth about it. Democrats extol it and Republicans demonize it. Yet even most Americans who don’t support Obamacare don’t want another government shutdown and are weary of these contrived showdowns.
Though Americans may no longer expect it, they still want the people they elect to work together to solve our nation’s problems.
That would be a healthy development.