To understand the current shutdown and political impasse, we must recall that Obamacare has been mired in a political grudge match on both sides of the aisle from its very conception. In my new op-ed in the Daily Caller, “Obamacare’s four-year government shutdown,” I offer a historical perspective of the battle over Obamacare, and how both sides are to blame for the divisiveness and gridlock we have today.
Here is my conclusion:
For four years straight, the President has done everything in his power, and perhaps some things beyond his power, to fight against widespread popular opposition and make Obamacare the law. And for four years straight, Republicans have done everything possible to delay, defund, and stop the law. Dysfunction and inaction have defined Washington these past four years, as other legislative priorities were put on the backburner while Obamacare has continued to consume much of the oxygen in Washington. The fixation on this single law is unprecedented in recent memory. Yet, this unpopular law has persevered, against all odds — from legislative, constitutional, and electoral challenges — despite never once gaining ratification from even a plurality of Republicans.
Critics may argue that the time to stop the ACA was in 2008. Or 2010. Or 2012. There were three elections that could have stopped the law. If the Republicans had one more vote in the Senate in 2009, they could have filibustered the law, and stopped it dead in its tracks. If the GOP had taken over the Senate and the House in 2010, they could have delayed, or perhaps halted implementation of the parts until after the 2012 election. Had Mitt Romney won the presidency in 2012, along with a Republican Congress, he could have signed into law a repeal of Obamacare, before it was implemented.
No doubt Obamacare remains wildly unpopular, but the majority of Americans voted for a President committed to implementing the law that now bears his name. But that has not deterred Republicans that still view this law as illegitimate, and taking the country down the wrong path.
In the current government shutdown, the Republicans are playing hardball to kickstart a debate that they don’t believe ever ended. This battle is far from over, as the budget shutdown crashes into the debt ceiling. If we are doomed to repeat history, the divisiveness seeded in 2009 over Obamacare will continue, with little hope of compromise on either side.