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Justin Vernold

October 19, 2013

A shameful battle over health care

(Continued)

When the law passed in 2010, I figured I’d be one of the last people on earth to defend it. As a member of The Daily Star’s editorial board, I’ve played the role of Socratic gadfly in questioning the law during meetings. And while we waited this summer for the Supreme Court to rule on the law’s individual mandate, I wondered if perhaps a rebuke from the judicial branch is what Obama deserved for not threatening to veto such a flawed bill.

But the law was upheld, and no rational person can defend the reaction by tea party Republicans in the House, who control just the lower chamber of one branch of the federal government, yet feel entitled to overrule the Senate, the White House and the Supreme Court in killing that bête noire they call “Obamacare.”

And let’s get that much straight; the tea party’s quixotic quest to upend the law is the sole reason for the recent government shutdown. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, admitted Oct. 6 on ABC’s “This Week” that he made an offer to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to pass a “clean” spending bill, which wouldn’t have defunded the health law, back in June.

“But I and my members decided the threat of Obamacare and what was happening was so important that it was time for us to take a stand,” Boehner said. “And we took a stand.”

That they did. A dumb stand, but a stand it was. Polls have indicated that the GOP is bearing most of the blame for the shutdown, and despite sizable public opposition to the Affordable Care Act, using the threat of a shutdown to quash the law has proven deeply unpopular. The House GOP turned peoples’ livelihoods into a game — one that Obama was destined to win.

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Justin Vernold
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