GOP Feeling Vindicated Over Obamacare ‘Disaster’

Republicans fresh off a failed campaign to delay the law’s implementation say their worst fears are being realized.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) waits for the beginning of a hearing on implementation of the Affordable Care Act before the House Energy and Commerce Committee October 24, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Developers who helped to build the website for people to buy health insurance under Obamacare testified before the panel on what had gone wrong to cause the technical difficulties in accessing the site. 
National Journal
Tim Alberta
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Tim Alberta
Oct. 24, 2013, 2 p.m.

Con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans have a mes­sage for Demo­crats sud­denly ex­press­ing angst about the newly im­ple­men­ted health care law: We told you so.

Even be­fore Thursday’s House com­mit­tee hear­ing, where con­tract­ors re­spons­ible for Health­Care.gov site were grilled by law­makers, Re­pub­lic­ans were feel­ing val­id­ated by the ap­par­ent flaws of Obama­care.

“Each and every day people are find­ing out that their premi­ums are go­ing up, that they can’t keep the in­sur­ance plan they like. It’s a dis­aster,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Wed­nes­day. “And that’s sort of con­firm­ing, I think, some of the key ar­gu­ments we were mak­ing over the past sev­er­al weeks.”

In­deed, Re­pub­lic­ans, fresh off a failed cam­paign to de­fund and delay the law’s im­ple­ment­a­tion, say their worst fears about Pres­id­ent Obama’s health care law are be­ing real­ized. This is es­pe­cially true re­gard­ing the in­di­vidu­al man­date, which re­quires un­in­sured people to en­roll in the new health care ex­changes or face a pen­alty. After their ini­tial de­fund ef­fort failed, Re­pub­lic­ans pushed hard for a one-year delay of this pro­vi­sion, pre­dict­ing that people would be un­able to en­roll due to tech­nic­al dif­fi­culties that were be­ing whispered about even be­fore Oct. 1.

“The one thing we were really ask­ing for is a delay of the in­di­vidu­al man­date “¦ so the Amer­ic­an people [would not] be re­quired to sign up on a web­site for something that they can’t even get on the web­site and sign up for,” said Rep. John Flem­ing, R-La. “So it only made sense to give them a break for a year.”

The ef­fort to delay the in­di­vidu­al man­date ul­ti­mately failed, but Re­pub­lic­an fears have proved pres­ci­ent. Now, with mil­lions of un­in­sured Amer­ic­ans strug­gling to nav­ig­ate a dys­func­tion­al en­roll­ment sys­tem, a grow­ing chor­us of Demo­crats is call­ing for ex­actly what Re­pub­lic­ans asked for weeks ago.

“We have to con­sider delay­ing the man­date that is the pen­alty,” Sen. Richard Blu­menth­al, D-Conn., said on MS­N­BC Thursday.

Blu­menth­al joins the swell­ing ranks of con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats ur­ging Obama to either ex­tend the en­roll­ment peri­od past the March 31 dead­line, or delay the pen­alty for those who do fail to re­gister by that date. The groundswell star­ted on Tues­day with a let­ter to the White House from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., which asked Obama “to con­sider ex­tend­ing open en­roll­ment bey­ond the cur­rent end date of March 31, 2014.”

Mean­while, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is tout­ing le­gis­la­tion to delay the in­di­vidu­al man­date by one year.

These Demo­crat­ic de­fec­tions are not lost on Re­pub­lic­ans, who took the brunt of pub­lic blame for an Obama­care-in­duced gov­ern­ment shut­down.

“We are start­ing to see Demo­crats flip as this thing — it’s a train wreck. It’s not work­ing,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chief ar­chi­tect of the GOP’s anti-Obama­care ef­fort, told Fox News on Wed­nes­day. “And, in any polit­ic­al fight, when the truth is on your side, you are in a good situ­ation. And here the truth is this thing isn’t work­ing.”

With the Sen­ate ad­journed un­til next week, the im­me­di­ate heavy lift­ing — in terms of over­sight and in­vest­ig­a­tion of the health care law’s prob­lems — has fallen to the House. And Thursday’s hear­ing was just the be­gin­ning. Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us will testi­fy in front of the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee next Wed­nes­day, the same day HHS of­fi­cials are ex­pec­ted to brief House Re­pub­lic­ans on the tur­bu­lent im­ple­ment­a­tion of Obama­care. Mean­while, sev­er­al oth­er com­mit­tees are pre­par­ing to hold health care-re­lated hear­ings to keep the spot­light on what they have long ar­gued are fatal flaws of the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Re­pub­lic­ans in­sist they take no joy in see­ing Amer­ic­ans suf­fer un­der the new health care law. But they do take com­fort in know­ing that voters now real­ize what they’ve been fight­ing against — not just in re­cent weeks, but since the law was en­acted in 2010.

“Now that we’re past the date of Oct. 1, Obama and [Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry] Re­id, they own this thing,” said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., who sponsored the ori­gin­al le­gis­la­tion to de­fund Obama­care. “And all of Amer­ica knows that it was John Boehner and the House Re­pub­lic­ans who did everything they could to pro­tect them from it.”

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