The tense back-and-forth between Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) during his interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell was yet another display of the lunacy gripping the House Republican Party caucus. They were talking about the story Mitchell broke earlier in the day about the government shutdown preventing the Pentagon from issuing death benefits to the families of the fallen. Duffy insisted that changes to Obamacare be a part of whatever deal is negotiated to reopen the government. Mitchell reminded him more than once that President Obama has made it clear that the Affordable Care Act will not be a part of said negotiations or raising the debt ceiling. What happened next left me slack-jawed.
DUFFY: You were asking me about the larger issue of why can’t people resolve this government shutdown. And we have been incredibly reasonable, making a small ask. And if the president doesn’t like what we’ve….
MITCHELL: Do you consider it a small ask that he get rid of the central part of his health care plan that was upheld by the vote of a presidential election and the United States Supreme Court?
DUFFY: Andrea, hold on. That’s your spin.
MITCHELL: That’s not spin.
Mitchell is right. That’s not spin. It’s fact. Yes, Obamacare is the president’s signature legislative and political achievement. And it is one that Mitchell correctly point out was upheld by the Supreme Court and, by virtue of the 2012 presidential election, the American people. That Duffy and his Obamacare-obsessed conservative cohorts can’t or don’t want to accept that — you know, the whole majority rule thing? — is what’s led to the mess we’re in.
The president isn’t saying that he would never make changes to the health care law. “If they want to give me specific suggestions around how we can improve delivery of health insurance to people who need it…I’m happy to talk to him about it,” Obama told CNBC’s John Harwood last week. “But I’m not going to do it subject to the threat that somehow America defaults on its obligations.”
Obama reiterated that point during his expansive press conference today. “I will sit down and work with anyone of any party, not only to talk about the budget; I’ll talk about ways to improve the health-care system,” he said listing off all the things he’s prepared to discuss once financial Armageddon is off the table. But that will never happen as long as Republicans like Duffy confuse fact for spin.
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