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Lee's latest fit

Published July 24, 2013 2:25 pm

Obsession with ACA is farcical
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Obamacare is here to stay. Congress passed it. The president signed it. The Supreme Court upheld it. States are implementing it. Insurance companies are learning to live with it — with premiums said to be going up 72 percent in Indiana and dropping by as much as 50 percent in New York.

The fact that some Republicans in Congress seem totally unable, or unwilling, to grasp this political truth is alternately farcical and tragic.

The latest tantrum from the lungs of Utah's junior senator, Republican Mike Lee, falls firmly in the farce category. Unless he actually succeeds in blocking key funding bills that will come before Congress in October, in which case, his efforts will qualify as tragedy.

Apparently grasping that Congress — after, maybe, 30 attempts — will not repeal the Affordable Care Act outright, Lee has shifted to a different tactic. He will try to get Congress to refuse to pay for the parts of the law that have not taken full effect. And, when he fails at that, as he almost certainly will, he will then try to make sure the Treasury doesn't pay for anything else, either.

Yes, another Newt Gingrich special, a government shutdown.

For someone who claims to be worried about how Obamacare, when fully operational, will be a drag on the economy, Lee and his fellow dead-enders seem to have no problem with the economic ripple effect that would cascade through the nation if the government stopped issuing paychecks or paying its other bills for even a short time.

Folks on Lee's side of the aisle, though, only seem to realize the stimulating influence of government spending if the money is spent by the Defense Department, and only when it is spent in a congressman's home state or district.

Not everyone with an R after his/her name, thankfully, agrees with this tactic. Sen. John McCain, for example, is hardly a fan of Obamacare, but is firmly opposed to debt-limit, government-shutdown or any other brinkmanship "shenanigans," as he calls them. And thinking conservatives, such as journalist Andrew Sullivan, describe the constant war on what is essentially the market-friendly Obamacare, as opposed to any true socialization of medicine, as a reason why Republicans have become the party of "vandals and saboteurs."

Obamacare is unwieldy and complex. Even if the Republicans quiet down and give it a chance, it still might not work. But it is that way because of its many contorted, Mitt Romney-inspired efforts to keep such things as private or employer-provided insurance in the mix, rather than sweeping it all aside for something like Medicare for all.

If Lee and his friends want to replace the ACA with that, or with something else, they should say so. Otherwise, they should get back to the hard work of governing.