Friday, October 11, 2013

Republicans vs. Obamacare: Now What?

I've been working in IT in some form for just over 20 years.  Starting as a PC tech (which back then meant installing Word Perfect from 5 1/4" floppy disks), and working up to what I do now (programming and systems administration).  If there's one thing that I've learned is that users do not like it when you take things away from them.  Whether it's a software application, or their old monochrome monitor, even if you replace it with something better, they react as if you're taking away one of their children.  Once people start using something, and get used to using it, good luck trying to get it out of their hot little hands.

Our country is in the midst of a government shutdown.  Spurred by their Tea Party caucus, the shutdown started off as the latest volley in the Republican Party's futile effort to repeal, replace, de-fund, delay, whatever, the Affordable Care Act, or as I proudly call it...OBAMACARE, but has now become one long tragedy, or sitcom depending on whose side you're on.

Since taking over the House of Representatives in 2010, Republicans have held 41 votes to repeal Obamacare.  41 votes on a repeal which has no chance of passing in the Senate, or surviving a presidential veto.  41 votes on a repeal of a law which was passed by congress, vetted by the Supreme Court, and validated by the voters by way of the 2012 election.  And when pointless symbolism failed, they turned to desperation. Believing that the public would back them, the GOP hoped to shut down Obamacare by shutting down the government. Unfortunately for them it had the effect of shutting down everything except Obamacare. If anyone in the GOP run House ever worked in IT, they would have realized that their efforts were doomed almost before they began.

The Republicans' war on Obamacare was a doomed affair the minute the first pieces of it went into effect almost 3 years ago. Once people started taking advantage of it, once they started benefiting from it, it was all over for the GOP. When the exchanges started up, it was the final shovel of earth over the coffin of an "movement" that was stillborn almost from it's conception. All that remained was the eulogy, which I imagine would have gone something like "We shut down the government to stop Obamacare, and we didn't even get a lousy t-shirt."

This latest episode of "Bat-shit Gone Wild" would be comical if it weren't for the tragic consequences. As a result of the almost two-week old shutdown, thousands of people have been furloughed, national parks and monuments are closed, workers aren't getting paid, and the ultimate insult.  Instead of saving money and reducing the deficit, this shutdown is costing the country millions in lost tax revenue. And now on top of all that, the GOP are threatening to take the country into default. All in hopes of saving an effort that should have been buried years ago. And it hasn't been without consequences for the GOP either. According to most polling, over 50% of the country blame the GOP, not Democrats or Obama, for shutting down the government. Their approval rating is at 28%. The Tea Party's approval rating is at 25%. And to top everything off, they've made both Obama and Obamacare MORE popular at 47% (+2) and 38% (+7) respectively.

The Republican Party's numbers are going down faster than a prostitute on David Vitter (oops, did I say that out loud). And now that their efforts to overturn Obamacare have gone down in ignominious defeat, John Boehner and his party are now reduced to begging like Keith Sweat for President Obama to please, please, please give them something, anything so that the Tea-Party won't be mad at them.  And worse, in a rare and refreshing display of gumption, steadfastness, and almost gleeful vindictiveness, Obama's not giving them a damn thing.  And he doesn't have to.  He has what he's wanted all along.  He's had it for about 3 years.  Obamacare is law, permanently, and there's nothing that the GOP or anyone else can do about it.  The Republican Party may have very well destroyed themselves because they failed to realize that when you give people something, even when they may not like it initially, it can be nearly impossible to take it away.