Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And so it begins...

The Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges opened for business yesterday; seemingly oblivious to the havoc they wreaked upon Washington insiders. At the end of the day the insurance exchanges proved themselves to be either a huge success or an abject failure depending on one’s political persuasion.
Government officials reported that the health insurance website received almost 3,000,000 hits in the first day…over 1,000,000 before 7:00 AM.  The site was overwhelmed by the traffic causing users to experience 10-20 minute delays in accessing the information.
If you are a proponent of Obamacare the day was bitter sweet.  On one hand 3,000,000 hits far exceeded the expected number and proved Democrat’s right in predicting that the people ARE interested in finding affordable health care.  On the other hand, having the system crash plays into the hands of critics who say that the president’s health care plan simply won’t work.
From our prospective, better to have a huge demand and glitches in the website than a shiny new website and little demand.  Given the 6 month enrollment period, there is plenty of time for the government to get it right.  But you have to wonder why they couldn’t get it right in the first place.  They had almost five years to build the system.
Meanwhile the shenanigans on the Hill continued.  Republicans staged a photo-op showing them seated on one side of the negotiating table with eight empty seats on the other.  The message: ”We are ready to negotiate. Where are the Democrats?”  Apparently Republicans have forgotten that Harry Reid spent the last six months asking Republicans to appoint members to a conference committee to negotiate the government shutdown.  Republicans refused.  Now, having followed Ted Cruz down a blind alley they want to talk.
In another desperate political move, Republicans in the House floated three separate continuing resolutions: to open the national parks, pay veterans benefits and fund the Washington district.  The Senate quashed all three. 
Republicans are feeling pressure from all sides to capitulate to the president.  The media is reporting story after story of the hardship being caused by the shutdown.  Polls show that 72% of Americans oppose the government shutdown as a means to defund Obamacare.  87% of the country disapproves of the manner in which congress is handling the shutdown.  People are beginning to feel the pain…and they blame the Republicans.  Any solace they gleaned from the website difficulties is hollow at best.
Obama is not going to give up his signature piece of legislation.  So as far as we are concerned there are only two ways this can end.
The Speaker can put a vote for a clean continuing resolution on the floor.  It will pass with bi-partisan support.  But it will cause the Speaker his job and will make life difficult for more conservative members when they return home to their districts.
Or Republicans can hunker down, take the abuse and await the debt ceiling battle looming two weeks hence.  Perhaps tying Obamacare, re-opening the government and raising the debt ceiling into one big package will work for them.
Meanwhile people are suffering.  And they will remember this when they vote.

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