In the ongoing debate over the government shutdown and the upcoming negotiations over the debt ceiling, Republicans should continue to focus on extracting concessions on Obamacare, rather than “pivoting” to a more general debate over the budget. As I argue in a column at National Review Online, the implementation of Obamacare is going to continue to face serious problems that will make opposition to Obamacare the right choice both politically and as a matter of policy.
No doubt the speaker and his allies are looking for an end-game strategy on the CR and debt-limit fights that has a chance of producing a modest victory for the GOP. That’s understandable. But, at this point, they are better off sticking with the fight they already started over Obamacare than with pursuing broader budget talks that could easily backfire.
Ironically, the odds have improved in recent days for extracting concessions on Obamacare from the White House and Senate Democrats. This has nothing at all to do with the shutdown and its political effects and everything to do with the slow-motion fiasco that is the Obamacare rollout. The continued dysfunction at the healthcare.gov website is confirmation that the law was not ready to be implemented. And the problems are not limited to the inability of curious citizens to see the insurance options. It is also apparent that the systems are not properly transmitting the required data to the insurance companies to successfully enroll people in coverage. If these problems persist, there could be thousands of people come January 1 who think they have signed up for insurance but have not yet successfully done so.
You can read the rest of the column here. And for those interested in hearing more about the problems with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, my former colleague from the Office of Management and Budget, Keith Fontenot and I discussed the law’s implementation on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Saturday, October 5th.