Oh, Look, Another Debt Ceiling Showdown. GOP, What’s Your Endgame on Obamacare?


House Republicans have passed a continuing resolution that defunds the Affordable Care Act. Since there’s not even the slightest chance that the Senate will adopt the bill, all signs point to another pointless, time-wasting Republican-led “showdown” over the debt ceiling. Hoo boy, I can’t wait for the cable news coverage.

Obamacare, by every indication, is a mess. Employers are cutting hours and converting full-time workers into part-time workers, slashing benefits, and dumping employees into exchanges, while conservative messaging against the law is becoming increasingly bizarre. Meanwhile, health care costs are still rising (you had one job, Obamacare. ONE JOB).

In other news, the GOP appears to still be grasping at straws, trying to figure out what its 2016 voting bloc will like (“Should we quit pissing off Hispanic illeg- I mean, immigrants, or unmarried women?”), and the increasingly out-of-touch but still-quite-vocal Tea Party continues to alienate everybody who doesn’t own both a gun and a tri-corner hat. Chris Christie is the best they’ve got so far, but he hates Rand Paul, and the media loves talking about his weight. You read it here: Hillary wins in 2016, whether you want her or not. The media does. This is the pantsuit of inevitability.

This seems like an opportune moment for the GOP to offer up an alternative to Obamacare, instead of trying once again to torch the whole damn thing. Yes, the market should be left to figure this out, and yes, Obamacare is the antithesis to a free market in health care, and if that’s your only position, go ahead and pat yourself on the back with the rest of your buddies on /r/libertarian. In the world we currently live in, Obamacare is here. It’s not going away. Republicans who care about the future economy and future generations need to focus on damage control. Mitigate the harm the law will do as much as possible, so that we don’t end up in an oppressive, expensive single-payer system thirty years down the road. For fuck’s sake, have some kind of solution.

And FYI, yelling “DERP SOCIALISM” is decidedly not any kind of solution.

There were (and are, still) serious problems with American health care that needed to be addressed. Americans’ costs are growing too quickly, people who lost their jobs also lost their insurance coverage, and people with pre-existing conditions couldn’t get coverage at all. Obamacare is a crappy attempt to fix these problems, and so far is living up to every skeptic’s expectations. But it is something, as opposed to nothing. You cannot undo it without having an alternative plan, or the media and the voters will crucify you. I know, the Repeal and Replace strategy includes a few fixes to things like health savings accounts and inter-state insurance exchanges. I’m sure you’ll have reporters and voters wetting themselves over that. America may not want Obamacare, but it wants something. And it’s been hearing promises for five years now that everybody will be able to get insurance coverage. These are the constraints GOP leaders need to work within. Make some kind of attempt to convince people that you’re giving them what they want, rather than making a few supply-side tweaks that will eventually “trickle-down.”

And dear GOD, leave the whole birth control issue alone, you dinosaurs.

There’s been a lot of debate here at TOL and in the broader movement on fusionism and whether libertarians’ interests are served by continued alliance with the Republican party. I have no interest in jumping into that discussion, except to say that libertarians’ interests are generally not served by any political party or institution. However, I do believe that a GOP that challenged the Democrats with its own, substantially different ideas and proposals, rather than just with obstructionism and threats of shutdown, would be preferable to the situation we have now: two parties that differ tremendously in rhetoric, but are nearly identical in practice. It’s little more than different branding on top of the same white-labeled party of massive, lumbering, incoherent centrism.

A two-party system may not be perfect, but it would be a step above the one-party system we have now.

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