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Republicans making 'Obamacare' their next target

By Donna Cassata & Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

Associated Press


WASHINGTON >> "Obamacare" escaped unharmed from the government shutdown Republicans hoped would stop it, but just as quickly they have opened a new line of attack -- one handed to them by the administration itself.

While Congress was arguing, President Barack Obama's plan to expand coverage for the uninsured suffered a self-inflicted wound. A computer system seemingly designed by gremlins gummed up the first open enrollment season. After nearly three weeks, it's still not fixed.

Republicans hope to ride that and other defects they see in the law into the 2014 congressional elections. Four Democratic senators are facing re-election for the first time since they voted for the Affordable Care Act, and their defeat is critical to GOP aspirations for a Senate majority.

Democrats say that's just more wishful thinking, if not obsession.

Although Obama's law remains divisive, only 29 percent of the public favors its complete repeal, according to a recent Gallup poll. The business-oriented wing of the Republican party wants to move on to other issues. Americans may be growing weary of the health care fight.

"This is the law of the land at this point," said Michael Weaver, a self-employed photographer from rural southern Illinois who's been uninsured for about a year. "We need to stop the arguing and move forward to make it work."

It took him about a week and half, but Weaver kept going back to the healthcare.gov website until he was able to open an account and apply for a tax credit that will reduce his premiums. He's not completely finished because he hasn't selected an insurance plan, but he's been able to browse options.

It beats providing page after page of personal health information to insurance companies, Weaver said.

Under the new law, insurers have to accept people with health problems. Weaver is in his mid-50s, with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but otherwise in good health. He says those common conditions made it hard for him to get coverage before.

Although Weaver seems to have gotten past the major website obstacles, he's still finding shortcomings. There's no place to type in his medications and find out what plans cover them. "I wish there was more detail, so you could really figure it out," he said.

Such a nuanced critique appears to be lost on congressional Republicans.

"#TrainWreck: Skyrocketing Prices, Blank Screens, & Error Messages," screamed the headline on a press release Friday from House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. A House hearing on the "botched Obamacare rollout" is scheduled for this coming week. GOP lawmakers want Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign.

Administration officials, in their most detailed accounting yet of the early rollout, said Saturday that about 476,000 health insurance applications have been filed through federal and state exchanges. But the officials continue to refuse say how many people have enrolled in the insurance markets.

Without enrollment figures, it's unclear whether the program is on track to reach the 7 million people projecting by the Congressional Budget Office to gain coverage during the six-month sign-up period.

The president was expected to address the problems on Monday during a health care event at the White House. The administration has yet to fully explain what has gone wrong with the online signup system.

"To our Democratic friends: You own 'Obamacare' and it's going to be the political gift that keeps on giving," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"Irresponsible obsession," scoffs Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees much of the health law.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says she doesn't see how going after the health law rollout will help Republicans by the time of next year's election.

"Americans are technology optimists," said Lake. "You tell them the website has problems today, and they'll assume it will be better tomorrow. I mean, we're Americans. We can fix a website."

There may be a method to the GOP's single-mindedness.

Republicans are intent on making the health law an uncomfortable anchor around the neck of four Democratic senators seeking re-election in GOP-leaning states, weighing them down as they try to unseat them. Republicans need to gain six seats to seize the majority in the Senate, and any formula for control includes flipping the four seats.

Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Kay Hagan of North Carolina will be facing voters for the first time since they were among the 60 Democrats who voted for the health law in 2009.

More than a year before the election, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton is airing an ad that criticizes Pryor for his vote, telling Arkansans that Pryor "cast the deciding vote to make you live under Obamacare." The commercial's final image shows Pryor with Obama, who took a drubbing in Arkansas last year.

"The bottom line is these candidates will have to answer for why they voted for this bill," said Rob Engstrom, senior vice president and national political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

If the website gets fixed, other problems may emerge. Republicans can still try linking 'Obamacare' to rising premiums, anemic job growth and broader economic worries.

Will the strategy work?

The chamber spent millions on ads in 2012 criticizing Senate incumbents such as Jon Tester of Montana and Bill Nelson of Florida for their health care votes, yet many of those candidates overcame the criticism and won re-election.

The economy, not health care, remains the top concern of voters. By putting opposition to the health care law ahead of all other priorities, economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin says tea-party conservatives may have overdone it.

"Obamacare was an effective campaign weapon," said Holtz-Eakin, and adviser to Republicans. "The question is, have they damaged it beyond its political viability?"

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tigerwarrior wrote:
"....only 29 percent of the public favors its complete repeal..." So much for the majority of Americans oppose Obamacare.
on October 20,2013 | 03:46PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
100% do not want this massive tax hike.
on October 20,2013 | 03:58PM
RichardCory wrote:
I actually do not care about the tax hike. Your number has been demonstrably proven wrong. Admit defeat immediately.
on October 20,2013 | 04:17PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
Anything that the government runs I do not want. Government stay out of our lives.
on October 20,2013 | 05:01PM
hanalei395 wrote:
People like thepartyfirst (the Teaparty), also say, "Government, stay out of our Social Security and Medicare".
on October 20,2013 | 05:16PM
thepartyfirst wrote:
hanalei395 are you hopeless? You need the government handouts?
on October 20,2013 | 05:22PM
bumba wrote:
Oh, I see. Social Security and Medicare are Govt handouts. OK. You're a half bubble off center, you brainwashed, selfish piece of human flotsam.
on October 20,2013 | 05:33PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Not-too-bright thepartyfirst didn't get it.
on October 20,2013 | 05:37PM
South76 wrote:
Those who have yet to (future generations) or are just starting out of putting money into these two social programs, Social Security and Medicare, will not see a dime of the taxes collected when they need it unless there is a massive die out of the baby boomers. Social Security and Medicare are not sustainable programs for future retirees and unless the next generations are willing to fork up majority of their income to propping up these social programs... For those who are going to depend on these programs when they retire will be the one asking for hands out in front of a 7-11 or at the street corner....There has never been a government social program that is efficient or self sufficient...NOT A SINGLE ONE....
on October 21,2013 | 05:21AM
false wrote:
thepartyfirst: Oh please, typical republican mentality. How do you think the government (city, state, federal) even exist or are able to function? Taxes paid by you and the rest of the citizens that are employed, if you're employed. I hope you're not eligible to collect Social Security (paid by taxpayers) or Medicare, and if you are, please tell the government that you refuse to accept it, since it's generated by the government. Don't use the airport, Aloha Stadium, UH facilities, DMV, Satellite City Halls, city buses, Public Schools, military facilities, unemployment checks, EBT cards, Freeways, highways, streets and roads, parks and beach facilities and others that are operated by the government. Now how would you be able to get by without using these government facilities? Best is to go and hide under a rock. Duh!!!
on October 21,2013 | 05:52AM
tigerwarrior wrote:
If the private sector will guarantee that they will offer health insurance to all of their qualified workers--we wouldn't need Obamacare, tax hikes and the government making sure corporate deadbeats don't continue making record profits and their CEOs and COOs making record earnings while their bottom tier workers often get left uninsured.
on October 20,2013 | 05:51PM
South76 wrote:
I guess you haven't heard, according to the US Supreme Court, the Obama care is a tax, that is how it was found to be constitutional because Congress has the power to impose taxes on people. The tax subsidies needed to buy insurance for those who do not have iinsurance will eventually come from those who are already paying taxes....so they are getting taxed twice.
on October 21,2013 | 05:32AM
ghstar wrote:
So, let's see . . . You don't want weather forecasts, air traffic control, medical research, national parks, social security, medicare, head start, educational programs, police dept, fire dept, public schools, land grant colleges, border patrol, food inspections and safety, disaster relief, counter terrorism, national defense, coast guard, common currency, interstate highways, science programs like NASA, observatories like Mauna Kea, libraries, flood control, any kind of governance? You don't mind if the Pearl Harbor shipyard closes and there are no military bases or jobs in Hawaii. Very good! Ignorance prevails. Did you ever attend school?
on October 20,2013 | 09:48PM
hanalei395 wrote:
I already have a great health plan, Kaiser Permanente, but, as a good Democrat, I want everybody to have a health plan. For those with no health care, Obamacare is for you.
on October 20,2013 | 06:23PM
South76 wrote:
Is that through the Med-Quest program?
on October 21,2013 | 05:36AM
hanalei395 wrote:
NO ...... it's on my own.
on October 21,2013 | 05:46AM
Kuniarr wrote:
Obamacare is not actually a valid law and should be repealed.

Obamacare is not a valid law because it originated in the Senate and not the House of Representatives as required by the US Constitution.

Obamacare is a Senate Bill masquerading as a House bill HR3590 because Obamacare was not an amendment of HR3590 because Obamacare replaced the entire contents and even the title of HR3590 which originally was HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009
on October 20,2013 | 09:37PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Obamacare is not a valid law" ............... But you're a valid clown. Like Social Security and Medicare, Obamacare is here to stay.
on October 20,2013 | 11:02PM
South76 wrote:
Social Security and Medicare are two social programs that are not sustainable unless you have a massive die out on baby boomers...future generations have to give up more of their hard earned money to support the retirement of the baby boomers....and as you know, we are living longer and longer....
on October 21,2013 | 05:36AM
hanalei395 wrote:
OK, so live longer and longer. Nothing wrong with that.
on October 21,2013 | 05:52AM
Kuniarr wrote:
It is obvious that you, hanaalei395 do not know what I was talking about - Obamacare being an invalid law because it is a bill that originated in the Senate and the House because by replacing the entire contents and title of HR3590 Obamacare was in truth and in fact a Senate bill which the US Constitution does not allow to become law.
on October 21,2013 | 10:28AM
hanalei395 wrote:
So? ...what are you gonna do about it?
on October 21,2013 | 11:25AM
Kuniarr wrote:
So, that makes you a clown, no, dense.
on October 21,2013 | 01:56PM
Pacej001 wrote:
A majority of those polled (average of eight recent polls, at Realclearpolitics.com) disapprove of Obamacare -- 48% for, 38% against.
on October 21,2013 | 06:55AM
noheawilli wrote:
I do not want to wait 11 months for an appointment and that's just what other nations have experienced.
on October 20,2013 | 04:11PM
RichardCory wrote:
[citation needed]
on October 20,2013 | 04:17PM
false wrote:
noheawilli: USA is not other nations and if you're going to based it on that assumption, you're like the rest of the Republicans that are against it and not giving it a chance to work. Your negativity is a reflection that Obamacare will fail because it wasn't a republican's doing, but hey, Romneycare (republican) worked in Mass and Obamacare is based on that concept.
on October 21,2013 | 06:08AM
tutulois wrote:
Political suicide, like a lot of what Republicans have been doing lately
on October 20,2013 | 05:01PM
geo333 wrote:
The Democrats have been drinking the Obama kool-aid for so long they are oblivious to the total erosion of their freedom and God given rights. Oh wait did I say God, let me refresh your memory God was the one most of you worshiped before Obama started handing out free cell phones, suing states if they require photo ID in order to vote, if you like your current insurance company you can keep it . . . at the list goes on and on . . . hope and change equates to lies and decent but your are whom you are even as you read this you are saying to yourselves "Man this is some good tasting kool-aid"
on October 20,2013 | 05:08PM
ghstar wrote:
Gotta love these guys. Somebody tell them the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The only way this makes sense is if they are running out the clock on Obama -- one year down and three to go. Look for three more years of manufactured crisis, lies, incompetence and ignorance. But it can work if Obama and the democrats can't get anything done because of it.
on October 20,2013 | 05:09PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Aloha Ghstar, Obama-care is and will remain the target. As America becomes informed on the Obama=care failure, Pres. Obama has placed the target on his back. But, he will attempt to blame the Republicans, even if not a single Republican Senator or House member voted for Obama-care. It will be interesting or maybe very exciting over the next 45 days.
on October 20,2013 | 05:23PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
If you love a free United States, we must repeal Obama=care and start over on individual issues with health care. We must remove all Federal Govt mandates and directives relating to health care and give the control back to the States. As the reality sets in as more American citizens log in and communicate with their insurance companies, more Americans will turn against Obama-care. It's now three weeks and the Obama Administration has not provided any verified data as to where are we as a Nation stand on Obama-care. There is a press conference tomorrow with Pres. Obama and those who have been successful in enrolling into Obama=care, so lets see what Pres. Obama will communicate with the American people. Sec. of HHS is to testify before a House Committee, not yet confirmed. I guess Pres. Obama and the Secretary will blame the Republicans. Nothing new will be shared with us.
on October 20,2013 | 05:16PM
312guy wrote:
irt kuroiwaj: why not let it fail as the party says is doing, why not concntrate efforts on something else worthwhile, the republican brand is being tarnish by this pighead approach
on October 20,2013 | 08:14PM
false wrote:
kuroiwaj: You're coming out with a lot of this and that but not really providing the real gist of why. All I read is a bunch of nonsense, nothing positive as to why Americans will turn against Obamacare. It's ironic that during the first week of October, 10,000,000,000 Americans have signed up for Obamacare. How you figa that one, and the Republicans are willing to shut it down, for what reason? Because it's Obamacare and not Republicancare.
on October 21,2013 | 06:20AM
cojef wrote:
Yes, let us wait and see if ACA can be successfully implemented. Upon passage no Congressperson read the bill, even the House Majority Leader indicated we can read after it is enacted. Thus, it is my prediction that all the hullabaloo that the Republicans made it is for naught. Let it be, the ACA will die on its own by the unforseen weight of problems. It's just unworkable in its present. Then, what, a "single payer" system will emerge and will be a "Big Brother" program. Lenin, said give the poor a free health insurance and that is sufficient to enslave the masses. America is heading towards the European style of health care or socialized medicine of the communism. Freedom of choice is no longer available. You must join or pay a penalty, the road signs are there. Like the Pied Piper myth we are being led to drown in our own stupidity.
on October 21,2013 | 07:42AM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Morning False, we are all waiting for data from the Obama administration after three weeks of the Obama-care website. The administration will not release any official information until the middle or late November. But, Consumer Reports (Oct 21, 2013) released some of the information on the website results; 9.47 individuals logged in and 276,000 "attempted" to sign up, with "no confirmation" of any sign ups. Go check it out, and go find out what the Consumer Reports recommend about this Obama-care website. The Obama administration's goal is to have 1.0 million confirmed sign ups a month. They may eventually reach that goal, maybe a year from today. Oh, I'm a retired union guy with a Cadillac medical plan and we are under duress because of the additional tax our employers will face under Obama-care. The talk is we may have to, for the first time, co-pay to cover the additional tax and fees for our medical insurance. And, we are not talking peanuts but sizable costs. It's coming. The Republicans must not take their eyes of Obama-care. It's an American problem.
on October 21,2013 | 08:00AM
geo333 wrote:
NEWS FLASH! Oprah Tells Obama 'No' for Obamacare Help
on October 20,2013 | 05:59PM
HD36 wrote:
Obamacare is such a good deal we're gonna force you to buy it.
on October 20,2013 | 06:34PM
stanmanley wrote:
Unfortunately it's not just Republicans who are making a big issue. It's small to large business, Unions and taxpayers. Republicans/GOP/Tea Party are being made a scapegoat for going against Obamacare.
on October 20,2013 | 06:39PM
mikethenovice wrote:
The Republicans remind me of wood termites out the get the every last piece of the house so that it will collapse. Termites do not half a house. They want the entire home.
on October 20,2013 | 07:27PM
Kuniarr wrote:
You mean Democrats don't you, mikethenovice
on October 20,2013 | 09:58PM
mikethenovice wrote:
I see the termites got to your head. Don't believe the false rumors of the GOP. You can do better than that, Kuniarr.
on October 21,2013 | 06:06AM
Kuniarr wrote:
I see that it is the termites that got into your head, not mine because Obamacare being a bill that originated in the Senate and not in the House of Representatives is a Senate bill that was not allowed by the Section 7 of the US Constitution to ever become law.

Here's what you need to educate yourself on what the comment of Kuniarr - not the GOP nor GOP talking points is all about: -mikethenovice?

Section 7 of the US Constitution stipulates " All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills."

Well, Obamacare or HR3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not actually House Bill HR3590 which is actually HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 but a Senate bill masquerading as HR3590 because the entire contents and entire title of House bill HR3590 was replaced by the entire contents and entire title of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The US constitution allows only the Senate to propose or concur with AMENDMENTS on HR3590. But in replacing the entire contents and the title of HR3590, the Senate did not make AMENDMENTS but actually a replacement of a House bill with a Senate Bill.
on October 21,2013 | 10:40AM
Kuniarr wrote:
mikethenovice by replacing the entire contents and the title of the original HR3590, Obamacare became in truth and in reality a Senate bill and therefore, Obamacare being a bill that originated in the Senate is an invalid law, not allowed by the US Constitution to become law.
on October 21,2013 | 10:44AM
kolohepalu wrote:
The rank and file repubs are working class- the very people who need universal coverage the most. But it's associated with their muslim, kenyan, communist enemy, so they must defeat it! Simpletons.
on October 20,2013 | 09:00PM
Kuniarr wrote:
No one has yet challenged the validity of the HR3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as actually being a House Bill HR3590 and not a Senate Bill.

For the entire contents and title of HR3590 Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009 was replaced by an unnumbered Senate Bill and therefore HR3590 as ceased to exist and was replaced by an unnumbered Senate Bill called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A Senate Bill masquerading as HR3590 is not qualified to become law because the it originated in the Senate and not the House of Representatives as required by the US constitution
on October 20,2013 | 09:32PM
jussayin wrote:
"Forty-four percent of respondents call the health-care law a bad idea, while 31 percent believe it's a good idea" - NBC Survey. "An increasing number of Americans would rather pay the penalty to be uninsured than opt into a health care program" - Gallup Poll. Doesn't seem like Obamacare is strongly supported by the people
on October 20,2013 | 10:32PM
Slow wrote:
How many believe we should stop inter-racial marriages? How many want blacks sent to Africa? Basic health care for the people is wrong? What village do you live in? The one where folks simply don't care?
on October 21,2013 | 08:29AM
HanabataDays wrote:
Their "next" target? Seriously? They've blasted away at it close to 50 times and never winged it once. Even Zen archers -- shooting with their eyes closed -- can do better than that. Well, if they manage to hit "Obamacare" one of these times (blind pig:acorn), at least we'll still have the ACA.
on October 21,2013 | 02:28AM
Maipono wrote:
Been watching the Salesman in Chief trying to sell Obamacare. Very sad that the office of the president has degraded to this level. Obama acknowledges that the roll out of Obamacare has been a complete mess, so he is begging people to call the Obamacare hotline, where you will spend on average 45 minutes applying for Obamacare for your family, if you can get in. This is a huge target for Republicans, as Americans see the fallacy of Obama's claims that, "This is a great deal.....".
on October 21,2013 | 06:02AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Republicans, trying to defeat Obamacare, probably think it's now a lost cause. So now, they're going for its website, trying to insinuate that IT IS Obamacare. But the problems for the website will be fixed and the Repubs will think of something else to defeat Obamacare. Most likely, ... (Ted Cruz said he will do ANYTHING to repeal Obamacare) ... another government shutdown.
on October 21,2013 | 06:37AM
Maipono wrote:
Brada Hanalei, did you watch the president this morning? He looked very uncomfortable, especially when one of his human props almost blacked out while he was doing his sales job.
on October 21,2013 | 07:31AM
hanalei395 wrote:
She looked young enough (26 and under) to be on her parents' health plan. And if she didn't have a health plan, she probably wouldn't even be around to be there in the first place. And the only one who is "uncomfortable" is you, and your hatred for Obamacare.
on October 21,2013 | 07:50AM
Maipono wrote:
Thanks for putting words in my mouth Brada Hanalei, but I really don't "hate" Obamacare, just concerned about what it will do to our country, and how poorly it was conceived. Usually when things are poorly planned they turn out badly, and Obamacare appears to be the case.
on October 21,2013 | 09:01AM
hanalei395 wrote:
I didn't put "words in your mouth". The way you post about Obamacare, you sound like you hate it.
on October 21,2013 | 09:26AM
false wrote:
hanalei395: Ted Cruz is a loser. I'm thankful that congress doesn't have a lot of Ted Cruz cause Congress and this country would be in deep trouble. This clown is always looking for attention from the media and is looking for a win, just a win, especially trying to kill Obamacare only because it's Obamacare.
on October 21,2013 | 03:32PM
Pacej001 wrote:
Looks like this thing is self-defeating. Reports are that 5 million lines of code need to be rewritten. At a thousand lines an hour, that's over two years of work, not including testing and other delays.------- Or maybe the solution is to hand this mess over to a crack team of community organizers. No doubt they could solve the problem with a couple of good speeches.
on October 21,2013 | 06:59AM
cojef wrote:
The leader of the pack was a community organizer, and other than political offices has no other business experience. The Senator that had a major role in the passage of the ACA, chose not to run for re-election and comented that the ACA was train-wreck waiting to happen. Powerful words from an ex-Senator, needless to say from a Democrat??
on October 21,2013 | 07:56AM
Slow wrote:
The infant death rate in the U.S. is shameful (34th according to U.N. statistics). We do a lot better in life expectancy, 33rd. Check the lists on Wikipedia. See who is above us, and who is below. It is apparent that providing health care to citizens corresponds to a healthier population. Tell me again why you hate health care for Americans.
on October 21,2013 | 08:23AM
Skyler wrote:
I honestly don't think most people 'hate' health care for Americans. What many 'hate' is Federal Government mandated health care and the fact that you are 'fined' for not getting a policy. Also, note the exemptions given to some of the largest unions & corporations in the country. Why, if they can get exemptions, can't the ordinary citizen? Oh & note that among some of those who are currently paying for insurance, their rates have gone up unreasonably. Why? So insurance companies can make up for losses in revenue due to an overwhelming influx of clients who have pre-existing injuries/diseases. Cancer treatment & dialysis are two huge money-hogs, and insurance companies rightfully note that they're going to be paying out big bucks due to Obamacare.
on October 21,2013 | 08:47AM
hawaiikone wrote:
When a teenager walks around with a dead baby in a handbag, while shopping in Victoria's Secret, do you think we may have a problem with our infant death rate?
on October 21,2013 | 01:23PM
control wrote:
"TrainWreck: Skyrocketing Prices, Blank Screens, & Error Messages," screamed the headline "....I guess they haven't figured out that drama queen tactics don't work very well. The only train wreck I see is the Tea Party who continue to be in denial.
on October 21,2013 | 08:26AM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
"If the website gets fixed, other problems may emerge." How's about the problem that for the first time EVER in our nation's history, our government is REQUIRING, i.e. FORCING its citizens to BUY SOMETHING. That is communism, socialism, tyranny, despotism, plain and simple. And no, it is NOT like car insurance, which you are required to have, b/c that is conditioned on a privilege-- to drive, which you don't need to do (including if you don't want to have to buy car insurance). Obamacare is one of the most abhorrent pieces of legislation ever to have come out of Congress, and it is, in all it's FILTHY, STINK glory, an ugly creature that belongs SOLELY to the Democrats.
on October 21,2013 | 12:37PM
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