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Obamacare starts amid Republican fury

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The Obama Administration’s landmark health reforms have commenced operation in the face of fierce opposition from hardline Republican opponents.

In a stunning showdown, a determined core of Republican congressmen have forced a shutdown of much of the US Government and could yet threaten to derail the country’s fragile economic recovery as they try to force the White House to agree to delay or dismantle much of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

But US President Barack Obama and House Democrats have so far resisted the intense pressure, and President Obama appears increasingly confident that it is the Republican opposition that will eventually splinter and collapse.

Late last week he ridiculed the public statements being made by some of the most vociferous opponents of Obamacare from within the Tea Party caucus of the Republican Party, and several moderate Republicans have publicly lambasted hardliners within their own party for their actions in Congress.

“Just yesterday one House Republican said – I’m quoting here alright because I want to make sure people understand, I didn’t make this up – one House Republican said, ‘We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this and I don’t know what that even is’. Think about that,” President Obama said.

While thousands of federal public servants have been told not to report for work, and dozens of Government institutions have been shut down or put in caretaker mode, a key element of Obamacare came into operation last Tuesday (1 October) when state-based insurance exchanges opened for business.

The exchanges will enable 32 million Americans currently without any form of health cover to choose from a range of health insurance plans that will come into effect from 1 January next year.

(For more detail on Obamacare, see Obamacare survives US Govt shutdown, so what is it exactly?, px).

The fierce opposition to the health reform is an aspect of the visceral fear and loathing many Americans feel toward the Obama Administration in general, and President Obama in particular.

The depth of feeling many express regarding President Obama has similarities with the fury some expressed toward Julia Gillard while she was Prime Minister.

As of late last week attempts to negotiate a settlement to the US political stalemate had got nowhere, stoking fears that, for the first time in its history, the US Government might have to default on its debt obligations, with potentially disastrous ramifications for the international economy.

Adrian Rollins