The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Columns

October 9, 2013

Primus Mootry: The backstory of government shutdown, Obamacare and legacy

(Continued)

Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, was a totally bipartisan effort that passed both the House and the Senate in 2010, subsequently was judged to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, and it was one of the key debate issues prior to the 2012 election. Barack Obama won that election. So why the fuss? It’s law. The only way it might get undone is if Republicans take the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives in the next election cycles.

Here’s another part of the backstory. Obamacare is deeply rooted in conservative thinking. Among other things, it mandates greater personal responsibility on the part of ordinary citizens. As we know, the idea of personal responsibility is one of the pillars of conservative ideology. Beyond that, the plan is a boon to private insurers who suddenly find themselves with nearly 50 million potential new customers. America’s conservatives should be quite happy with that.

But Obamacare is a history-making biggie. It ranks right up there with now decades old legislation that put into place Social Security, Unemployment Insurance and Medicare. As such, the Affordable Care Act likely will be the most important part of Obama’s legacy. For that reason alone, a handful of right-wing legislators just can’t stand it. That is the backstory answer to the question of who is to blame for the government shutdown. Why play games with it?

What I suggest we are witnessing is the end game of a pathetic goal Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell articulated prior to the last presidential election: “[Our] single most important job is to defeat President Obama in 2012.” McConnell is joined by a small faction in the Senate and the House, and backed by wealthy ultra-conservatives and tea party activists who are committed only to the destruction of Barack Obama’s presidency, and hence, his legacy. In fact, the Obama-haters wish destruction on his entire administration, leaving him only as a historical footnote.

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