Between the right and a hard place


When it comes to the federal health care system, congressional Republicans have found themselves in an increasingly awkward position. Their far-right base and allied right-wing activist groups continue to push GOP lawmakers to shut down the government – and quite possibly default on U.S. debts – in the hopes of sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.

And yet, many Americans who recognize the benefits of “Obamacare” continue to push in the opposite direction. We saw this two weeks ago in North Carolina, last week in Florida, and yesterday, this amazing clip out of Nevada was released by American Bridge.

In this clip, we see a small business owner in Las Vegas who had some straightforward questions for Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.): “Why would you oppose the ACA at every turn?” and “Why would you oppose something that’s helping me now?”

When local events erupted during the 2009 August recess, months before the Affordable Care Act became law, the right found it fairly easy to exploit public confusion – throw around some garbage talking points about “death panels” and “socialism,” and wait for scared people to go berserk.

But as Greg Sargent explained well yesterday, ” We’re a long way from the anti-Obamacare town halls of the magical Summer of ‘09.” The public is starting to get a better sense of the benefits of the law, how it will help them and their families, and town-hall meetings that used to serve as opportunities to feed red meat to Fox viewers are suddenly becoming opportunities for mainstream Americans to ask Republican lawmakers aloud, “Why should my family suffer because you have a partisan axe to grind?”

Also note just how few answers GOP lawmakers have in response.

For the right, Republicans are eager to boast about voting to repeal the federal health care law several dozen times, but conservatives are unimpressed – the votes were a vanity exercise with no practical value for anyone on either side of the argument.

For the left, Republicans, as we see with Joe Heck in the above video, have tired cliches and shallow talking points about the number of pages in the legislation.

And for everyone in between, as we’ve seen in Nevada, Kentucky, and North Carolina, Republicans offer reassurances that there are some provisions in “Obamacare” that the GOP likes and wants to keep, which makes it that much more difficult to understand why those same Republicans have voted literally dozens of times to eliminate the Affordable Care Act in its entirety – including the parts they now say they support.

All the while, Republicans have said for nearly four years they’re ready to present a credible alternative the reform law that’ll work even better than that darned Democratic version, but we’re still waiting, and by all appearances, the party still doesn’t have an actual health care policy.

Can’t anybody here play this game?

Affordable Care Act and Obamacare

Between the right and a hard place