The Free Press, Mankato, MN


October 1, 2013

Tea party brinksmanship harms country

Why it matters: The GOP lost the debate on Obamacare, but continues to hold all other business hostage.

“Nuclear option” is a phrase designed to elicit the proper foreboding of an action that should be avoided at most any cost. But House Republicans, driven by a unyielding group of tea party supporters, has been blissfully embracing a nuclear option for months — years really — as they blindly push to end Obamacare at the cost of all else.

The House has voted not 10, not 20, not 30 but 40 plus times to kill the Affordable Care Act, all maddeningly symbolic gestures that have helped further poison an already near-paralyzed Congress. They continued the brinkmanship into Monday’s deadline for raising the nation’s debt ceiling, arguing they would agree to increase the debt level only if Obamacare is “de-funded” or at least delayed for a year.

Ironically, the right-wing tenacity in the House was made largely possible by a fellow Republican in the Senate, tea party darling Ted Cruz, who helped design the kill-Obamacare-at-any-cost strategy. Or at least pretend there’s a chance to kill it in a Quixotian gesture.

The president had earlier agreed to delay for one year implementation of some Obamacare requirements on large businesses. But after growing increasingly weary of the GOP’s ongoing obstruction declared he would not negotiate on any aspects of the health care overhaul during the debt ceiling debate.

Indeed there are and will be many adjustments needed to the Affordable Care Act. The sheer scope of the legislation and the new territory it enters requires both parties and the president to work on helpful changes that will make Obamacare work better and at its most cost effective. But simply repeating that it needs to be killed helps no one.

The debate on Obamacare — passed more than three years ago — is over. Congress passed it, the courts approved it and Obama won re-election as the architect of it. The House GOP’s continued attacks on it in order to show “principle” to their supporters is destructive to the country and to their party’s future.

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