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Obamacare’s Bumpy Rollout

It wasn’t long after online health-care exchanges launched today that complaints started pouring in.

You can’t say they didn’t see this coming.

In the weeks leading up to this morning’s historic rollout of a network of state and federal-managed online health-insurance exchanges, Obama administration officials warned that there would be some issues when the websites went live at midnight on October 1.

Health Care

Deborah Lielasus, 54, tries to sign up for health coverage on October, 1, 2013, in Porstmouth, New Hampshire. (Holly Ramer/AP)

“We may encounter some bumps when open enrollment begins, but we'll solve them,” said Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

Pundits are taking it on faith that Obamacare will be a success and the government shutdown will damage the GOP. But previous shutdowns make clear that no one knows for sure who the winners and losers will be.

There seem to be three basic assumptions governing much of the coverage of the ongoing mess in Washington: (1) that Obamacare may have implementation problems but is good for the country and will prove popular; (2) that Republicans will greatly suffer for any shutdown; (3) to support a shutdown confrontation is a near clinical sign of insanity, temporary or otherwise.

It may very well be that 1 and 2 prove correct and emerge as prime evidence of the third. But history tells us that, more often than not, this sort of media-reinforced groupthink proves wrong.

Government Shutdown

A sign indicates that the Lincoln Memorial and all national parks are closed October 1, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty)

Obamacare is the ultimate consumer product. More than almost any government program, it will touch a huge number of Americans. If people feel that it is improving their lives, that positive reaction will likely trump any ideological concerns. Likewise, if the experience is negative, supporters will turn into critics, as we’ve seen with the unions unhappy with various aspects of the plan.

GOP Kamikazes

Heckuva Job, Wacko Birds

So the ‘suicide caucus’ of the GOP just shut down the government to reflect the ‘will of the American people’? No, it turns out we didn’t want that. They’re delusional, says Kirsten Powers.

The GOP “suicide caucus”, led by proud “wacko bird” Sen. Ted Cruz, was, not surprisingly, spawned from a faulty premise.

Their kamikaze campaign to defund President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, ridiculously rests on the idea that they are reflecting “the will of the American people.” It’s true that Obamacare is not the most popular government program in history. But hardly anyone outside this pestiferous little posse supports defunding the law, especially at the cost of a government shutdown.

Watch highlights from "wacko bird" Sen. Ted Cruz's faux-filibuster against Obamacare.

In a widely touted USA Today/Pew Research survey, 53 percent of Americans expressed disapproval of Obamacare. But of those 53 percent, just half (or 23 percent of the total population) said they wanted Republicans to do what they could to kill the health-care law. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll asked, “Would you say you approve or disapprove of cutting off funding as a way to stop some or all of the law from being put into place?” Defunding was opposed 56-37. When the possibility of a government shutdown was factored in, there was even less support. In the CNBC All-America Economic Survey, opposition to defunding under those circumstances was 59-19.

Shutting Down

No Exit Plan

In a long night of political ping-pong, the U.S. government shut down as the midnight deadline passed. There’s no way out for John Boehner now, report Eleanor Clift and Ben Jacobs.

At midnight, for the first time in 17 years, the federal government shut down. A game of legislative ping-pong continued into Tuesday morning as House Republicans sought to delay Obamacare and the Senate declined to follow suit. The ball was in the House’s court when the clock struck midnight. The lower chamber had voted to approve the latest GOP continuing resolution by a vote of 228-201 on Monday evening. Twelve Republicans voted against the bill, and nine Democrats voted for it. About a half an hour later, the Senate rejected the GOP continuing resolution and set it back to the House, making a shutdown inevitable. At the moment that the shutdown took effect, the House was debating a motion to go into conference with the Senate on the continuing resolution—a measure Majority Leader Harry Reid had already announced he would reject.

130930-clift-boehner-tease

House Speaker John Boehner departs after a closed-door meeting of the House Republican caucus during a rare Saturday session at the Capitol on September 28. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

House Speaker John Boehner still can’t find an exit plan that can save the country from unnecessary grief, the Republican Party from what polls suggest is a losing tactic, and his job as leader. Conventional wisdom has it that Boehner is worried about his own skin, and that’s why he won’t support a “clean CR,” legislative speak for a continuing resolution to fund the government without attaching language to delay Obamacare.

On Monday afternoon, with the ball back in Boehner’s court, President Obama came to the White House briefing room to issue yet another of his stern statements to Congress. “You don’t get to exact a ransom for doing your job,” he said, “or because there’s a law here you don’t like.”

The Shutdown According to Everyone Else

The U.S. Government shutdown has ended and the debt ceiling crisis has been averted for now. Americans feel relieved, but how does the rest of the world feel about it?

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Mike Loffler spent 15 months visiting 20 countries around the world. This video, meant to 'showcase the people, nature, and spirit of travel,' really makes you want to pick up and go.

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