They threw everything they had at it. Desperate to destroy the Affordable Care Act, Republican policymakers tried misinformation campaigns; they tried sabotage; and they tried repeal. The campaign did not, however, derail the law, the success of which is becoming increasingly obvious.
The next question is whether GOP officials actually care.
At his press conference yesterday, President Obama not only touted the new enrollment totals -- 8 million American consumers enrolled through exchange marketplaces during the open-enrollment period -- he also urged Republicans to end their preoccupation with the issue.
"I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been: they still can't bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working.
"They said nobody would sign up. They were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country. They were wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who would be denied coverage again, or every woman who would be charged more for just being a woman again.
"I know every American isn't going to agree with this law, but I think we can agree that it's well past time to move on as a country and refocus our energy on the issues that the American people are most concerned about, and that continues to be the economy, because these endless, fruitless repeal efforts come at a cost. The 50 or so votes Republicans have taken to repeal this law could have been 50 votes to create jobs."
In all, during a fairly brief press conference, Obama used the phrase "move on" four times in reference to Republicans and the ACA.
And before the press conference was even over, the National Republican Congressional Committee declared, in response to the president's call to move on, "No, we can't."
And on the surface, congressional Republicans certainly seem to mean it. As the health care system grows stronger, GOP lawmakers are descending deeper into denial, conspiracy theories, and fairly transparent con jobs. The Wall Street Journalreported this week that Republican leaders are committed to near-constant Obamacare bashing for the rest of the year, regardless of facts that may try to get in the way.
The stubbornness might be impressive if we weren't talking about a group of policymakers desperately trying to take health care benefits away from millions of American families for no particular reason.
But there are cracks in the facade. For all the bravado and chest-thumping, about they will never, ever, ever stop trying to destroy health care reform, Republicans are not a united front.
Rachel Maddow discusses how the Kentucky legislature killed a bill that would have allowed Rand Paul to run for reelection in the Senate while possibly pursuing a White House bid at the same time. watch
Nicole Wallace, former communications director for the George W. Bush administration, talks to Rachel Maddow about Rand Paul’s prospects as a 2016 contender for both the Senate and the Presidency. watch
On the one year anniversary of the fertilizer explosion in West, TX that killed 15 people, Rachel Maddow discusses how no new safety regulations have been enacted since then to prevent another such tragedy. watch
Tonight's guests include: Nicolle Wallace, former senior advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign; Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC read more
Just five weeks ago, the Associated Press ran an article on the pace of Affordable Care Act enrollments. The White House, the piece said, "needs something close to a miracle to meet its goal of enrolling 6 million people by the end of this month." Congressional Republicans eagerly passed the AP's item around.
As of April 1, we already knew that miracle had arrived: the initial estimate pointed to 7.1 million Americans enrolling through exchange marketplaces. By last week, that total was revised to 7.5 million.
Today, there's a new number: 8 million consumers signed up for private coverage through exchanges.
President Barack Obama announced Thursday that eight million people have selected a private health insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act.
"This thing is working," he said of the law during an announcement during a statement in the White House briefing room. The president also said that 35 percent of people who enrolled through the federal marketplace are under the age of 35.
As the president want on to explain at a press conference this afternoon, that's 8 million enrolled through exchanges, another 3 million young adults who've gained coverage through family plans, and another 3 million who've taken advantage of Medicaid expansion.
That's 14 million American consumers -- a number that would be more than 19 million if several Republican officials weren't deliberately blocking Medicaid expansion out of political spite.
Before new conspiracy theories sprout, I should note that these upward revisions do not come as a surprise.
It's been nearly three months since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declared, "This year, we will rally around an alternative to ObamaCare and pass it on the floor of the House." Last week House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the plan is being delayed "at least a month." A month from when? He didn't say.
ThinkProgress reports that Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) is telling his constituents that his party doesn't intend "to do anything" on this issue for the rest of the year.
CONSTITUENT: You've voted to repeal it approximately 50 times. Had zero votes on a replacement. So my question is, why do you think it is so good to deny seniors on Part D to make them pay more, about $4,000 more for medicine, and people with pre-existing conditions get denied insurance, have 26-year-olds have a harder time getting insurance because they can't get on their parents'? Why do you think those are good ideas?
ROSS: I don't. And let me tell you, I think one of the most unfortunate things my party did the last three years was not offer an alternative to health care. I've always felt that way. I think it's absurd when I tell people that this isn't what you should do, but I don't have an alternative for you.... I wish we had an alternative. For the next six months, we're going to go into an election knowing that we're not going to do anything to address health care. Because we've gone so far in the last few years saying "no" that we don't have an alternative to say "yes" to.
It's not too common to hear House Republicans referring to their own party's posture on health care as "absurd," which make Ross' comments fairly striking on their own.
There's also the news that Ross is apparently under the impression that his party won't bother with an ACA alternative at all in 2014, despite literally years of Republican promises to the contrary.
But perhaps most interesting of all was the two-word answer in response to the question from Ross' constituent: "I don't."
As a substantive matter, the nature of the debate over the Affordable Care Act has changed dramatically in just the past few weeks. On every metric that matters -- enrollment data, rate of uninsured, systemic costs, premiums -- there's been quite a bit of news, and all of it's heartening for those hoping to see the American system succeed.
But as the substance changes, the politics and broader impressions are changing with it. Democrats who were expected to avoid "Obamacare" at all costs as a campaign issue are starting to do the opposite. And Beltway media that talked up ACA peril is now conceding the system is "making a pretty impressive run."
The headlines about the Affordable Care Act have turned positive lately, and they're starting to pile up. The most dire predictions from the law's critics simply haven't panned out, and now Democrats are headed into another big health care fight -- the confirmation of a new Health and Human Services secretary -- with stronger real-world evidence than they've had before.
There's important information we still don't have about enrollment, and big risks loom on the horizon. Things could change. But right now, the tide seems to be turning in the White House's favor.
Narratives feed on themselves, and there was a time when Obamacare just kept losing.... But over the past few weeks, the news has started to roll in the other direction.... Now it's good news snowballing, and it's critics who increasingly seem to have missed the mark with their warnings of inevitable collapse.
So much for the "death spiral."
It's against this backdrop that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) issued a brief report this morning, as part of the "House Obamacare Accountability Project." (House Republicans have actually created a formal project with its own name for their initiative to root for ACA failure.) The 1,100-word piece intends to "debunk" the encouraging news of late, but McCarthy's indictment doesn't actually disprove anything. It asks some questions and repeats some old, bogus talking points, but for those who've followed the debate closely, it's surprisingly pretty easy to debunk the House GOP's attempted debunking.
With this in mind, it's probably time to start thinking more about "Obamacare Derangement Syndrome."
We saw the likely conspiracy theory coming, but as Andrew Rosenthal noted, it's nevertheless interesting to "actually see one being born."
For years now some on the right have speculated that the Obama administration is trying to politicize the national census. Yesterday, Noah Rothman argued on Mediaite that the theory was proven correct by a New York Times article about changes in the way the Census Bureau plans to ask about health insurance coverage.
The idea is that the new questions will show a reduction in the number of uninsured people starting in 2014, which may make it seem as though the Affordable Care Act is working better than it really is. The change in questions will also produce a "break in trend" within the census surveys and thus make it impossible to statistically compare 2013 and 2014 with earlier years.
Therefore, the White House must have ordered this sinister change to promote President Obama's signature domestic initiative.
Or so the argument went. Conservative media types weren't alone, of course. As Igor Volsky noted, congressional Republican offices soon followed. In an especially odd missive, House Speaker John Boehner's communications director, Rory Cooper, tweeted, "It never stops. Obama Administration now changing the CENSUS survey in order to hide failure of Obamacare."
It's unclear whether or not Cooper and his like-minded cohorts realize what they're saying is silly. Maybe they know how foolish this conspiracy theory is, but hope to keep irrational hatred of the Affordable Care Act going, whether it makes sense or not. Or perhaps they just don't know enough about the substance of this to understand the policy they're publicly condemning.
Either way, to borrow a phrase, it never stops.
But so long as Republicans and conservative media intend to remain invested in this, it's probably worth taking a closer look at reality.
The culture war's focus has narrowed quite a bit in recent years. Whereas the political combat over hot-button social issues used to include issues like school prayer, access to pornography, and Ten Commandments displays, the contemporary culture war tends to focus on sexual health (access to abortion and contraception) and gay rights (most notably marriage equality).
But once in a while, anti-sodomy laws return to the fore.
It was, after all, just last summer that Virginia's Ken Cuccinelli (R), at the time the state Attorney General, fought in support of an anti-sodomy measure that had already been struck down in the courts. This week in Louisiana, meanwhile, state lawmakers protected an anti-sodomy law that's already been deemed unconstitutional.
The Louisiana House of Representatives rejected legislation, on Tuesday, that would remove the state's symbolic ban on certain kinds of sodomy. The bill failed by a wide margin on a vote of 27-67, with 11 members not voting.
Louisiana's anti-sodomy law was overturned and declared unconstitutional in 2003, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling such state statutes could not be enforced. Still, the Legislature has been unwilling to officially strike the measure from state law, even though it can't be used as a cause for arrest.
A House Committee passed the legislation onto the body's floor by a vote of 9-6 last week. But one of the state's most powerful lobbying groups, the conservative Christian Louisiana Family Forum, opposes striking the sodomy ban.
And in this case, the Louisiana Family Forum won.
Keep in mind, everyone involved realizes that Louisiana's anti-sodomy statute cannot legally be enforced. It's effectively legal window dressing -- it's just sitting there, serving no practical purpose. But rather than removing unenforceable clutter from their books, Louisiana's state House, with the overwhelming support of its Republican majority, agreed with the Louisiana Family Forum's assessment that the unconstitutional anti-sodomy statute is "consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral."