Obamacare Was Not Worth a Government Shutdown


Pete Souza

President Barack Obama in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, July 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


President Barack Obama in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, July 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, July 23, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After 16 agonizing days of filibusters and debates, the United States government has finally broken free of its impasse after President Barack Obama signed an agreement on Thursday Oct.17. The public may not be happy with the Democrats or Republicans (GOP) at the moment, but I’m relieved to know that Democrats managed to escape the shutdown somewhat unscathed. They may have received low approval ratings, but they stood as a united front against the Republicans and got their way in the end.

The 35-page bill, put together by Senate Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, compensates the workers who were furloughed during the shutdown, increases the debt limit through Feb. 7, grants funds to government agencies until Jan. 15 and mandates the Department of Health and Human Services to verify incomes of people applying for the Affordable Health Care Act or Obamacare with reports to avoid insurance fraud.

Bottom line: Obamacare succeeded in pulling through and Republicans now have to lie in the same grave they dug up.

For a party that initiated the government shutdown for the purpose of repealing Obamacare, the Republicans had little to no say in the bill’s enumerations. They essentially conceded to all the Democrat-oriented clauses, with their main input being the income verifications clause. Not only were the Republicans unsuccessful in their attempt to repeal Obamacare, but they also hurt the approval ratings for their party. An online Wall Street Journal Poll taken during the shutdown includes more negative ratings for the Republican and Tea parties than it does for the Democrats and after this bill, the negative ratings have surely gone up. The Republicans lost the trust of many Americans and managed to widen the rift within their own party. Not all Republicans were as passionate about obliterating Obamacare as Senator Ted Cruz, however. Take, for example, Senator John McCain, who knew it was futile to fight against a bill that’s not only supported by many Americans but also by a majority of Congress. McCain may not be a proponent of Obamacare, but in CNN’s State of the Union interview, he encourages Republicans to “keep up the fight against Obamacare. But don’t shut down the government and have so much collateral damage.”

As happy as I am to know that the Democrats won this round of the longstanding rivalry between the two parties, I can’t help but think that the shutdown in itself was a pointless crusade that just hurt the GOP as well as the economy. The President’s healthcare program has somewhat succeeded in escaping the clutches of Republicans, and while it offers several benefits—such as emergency services and allowing college graduates to stay under their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 years old—it wasn’t worth a 16-day government shutdown. Obamacare still has some major glitches that need to be rectified, and for Congress to risk the country’s economy and its workers for an initiative that’s not fully fleshed out is not very logical.

Although the Healthcare Marketplace went live on Oct. 1, the $400 million website is defective. According to Politico, many people that have tried to sign up for health insurance have encountered failed account logins, error messages and blank pages. Information about healthcare plans is still incorrect in some cases and the security for the website itself is unreliable. The application requires information that gets sent to other agencies to “verify income, immigration status, and eligibility for subsidies,” and, as a result, chances of fraudulency are very likely.

The government will have to borrow and allot more money to better secure the website on top of allocating money to make up for the damages inflicted that were upon the economy during the shutdown. ABC News reported that the U.S. took a $24 billion loss because most government services were closed down, which stopped money from flowing through services such as national parks and other forms of tourism. Visitors to New York City couldn’t even go see the Statue of Liberty—putting a damper on their fun as well as hurting the finances of the National Park Service.

It’s going to take a while for the country to recuperate from this blow, both economically and politically. By fighting to defund the Obama’s healthcare bill, Sen. Cruz drove a wedge between himself and the majority of Republicans. For the Tea Party and ultra conservative representatives, who unfortunately dominate the Republican Party, it was an “all or nothing” mentality. They didn’t stop to think that Congress’ time might’ve been put to better use if they had tried to tweak the bill rather than kill it. I’m not insinuating that the bill itself shouldn’t have been passed at all, but that the bill has loose ends that need to be tightened before we can say that it has come to fruition. Obamacare may have passed through this ordeal, but the shutdown failed to bolster the public’s confidence in the operations of the government.