When insanity reigns in Washington
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Republicans of all stripes were so certain of themselves before the Supreme Court’s decision. Here’s what Herald columnist and former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato wrote in a piece predicting the downfall of Obamacare in the Supreme Court: “If the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the Supreme Court could remove all parts of the bill dealing with the mandate. Or, in a strict interpretation, I predict the justices will vote 5-4 that the whole bill is unconstitutional.”
To his credit, D’Amato castigated the ultra-right wing of his party in his recent column “It’s time to unite before it’s too late.” “The longer this shutdown is dragged out, the longer the taxpayer will continue to suffer,” he wrote. “This is a terrible disservice to the American people.”
The question is, what gave the GOP, in particular its Tea Party wing, the right to close a good part of the federal government over a law that has withstood all legal scrutiny –– and is simply about doing what is right by the neediest of Americans?
Congress passed and President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in June 2010. The law, which includes a Patient’s Bill of Rights that applies to all Americans, ensures that 30 million people who were previously uninsured will be able to receive health care when they fall ill.
Republicans have pooh-poohed the necessity of the law since it was first proposed. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who rushed online to check out the federal government’s new Health Insurance Marketplace when it recently went live. At the exchange, Americans can shop for cheaper insurance plans or apply for government subsidies if they need help paying for insurance. Fourteen states have their own marketplaces. California’s exchange, Covered California, reportedly received up to 10,000 hits per second when it first went online, according to Bloomberg News. GOP pundits immediately challenged that estimate, saying the number had to be smaller. Let’s assume it was. Let’s say it was 5,000 per second. Who cares? That’s still a lot of people.