“What did Republicans get for 16 days of a government shutdown with people being hurt? We have absolutely nothing to show for it, other than a damaged brand.” This is how second-term Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) described the events of October. And the young Tea Partier is right. Polls show that eight in ten Americans disapprove of the shutdown, and a majority lays the blame at the feet of the GOP.
The story of the debacle is a Stupid Party classic. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or “ObamaCare”) was signed into law in March 2010. Most of the major provisions go into effect in January 2014; however, the health-insurance exchange provision was slated to begin on October 1. The exchanges are essentially an online marketplace for health insurance where consumers can calculate costs and compare coverage options.
According to GOP rhetoric, the implementation of the exchanges marked a point of no return. Text messages went out from activists claiming that, if the exchanges went forward, the American Republic would be lost.
Conveniently, the federal government’s budget calendar begins on October 1, and before that date some appropriations measure needed to be passed to fund federal agencies and programs for the upcoming fiscal year. Hence, the GOP hatched a plan to pass a continuing resolution that would fund only non-PPACA...