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Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Opinions On Shutdown: Boehner Says Dems Have ‘Slammed The Door;’ GOP Effort To Derail Law Takes Democracy ‘Hostage’

The impasse in Washington sparked many opinions.

USA Today: John Boehner: Obama Owns This Shutdown Now
The president isn't telling the whole story when it comes to the government shutdown. The fact is that Washington Democrats have slammed the door on reopening the government by refusing to engage in bipartisan talks. And, as stories across the country highlight the devastating impact of Obamacare on families and small businesses, they continue to reject our calls for fairness for all Americans (House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, 10/2).

USA Today: The Shutdown Party: Our View
This shutdown, the first in 17 years, isn't the result of two parties acting equally irresponsibly. It is the product of an increasingly radicalized Republican Party, controlled by a disaffected base that demands legislative hostage-taking in an effort to get what it has not been able to attain by the usual means: winning elections. ... More immediately, the party needs to get out of the hole it is digging for itself and the nation. That will require Boehner to allow the House to vote on a bill to fund the government without any Obamacare amendments. Such a measure would likely pass with votes from Democrats and pragmatic Republicans, ending the shutdown and leaving Obamacare to succeed or fail on its own (10/1).  

The New York Times: John Boehner's Shutdown
By Tuesday morning, the leadership failure of Speaker John Boehner was complete. In encouraging the impossible quest of House Republicans to dismantle health care reform, he pushed the country into a government shutdown that will now begin to take a grievous economic toll. ... He stood in the well of the House and repeated the tired falsehood that the Affordable Care Act was killing jobs. He came up with a series of increasingly ridiculous demands: defund the health law, delay it for a year, stop its requirement that employers pay for contraception, block the medical device tax, delay the individual mandate for a year, strip Congressional employees of their health subsidies. All were instantly rejected by the Senate (10/1).

The New York Times: Our Democracy Is At Stake
This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake (Thomas Friedman, 10/1).

Bloomberg: The Republicans' Ideological Shutdown
Republicans lost the legislative battle against Obamacare in Congress in 2010, then lost the political battle when President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012 (along with a Democratic majority in the Senate). Like Medicare and Social Security before it, Obamacare is offensive to some conservatives on principle and to others on political grounds. The law’s conservative origins aside, that’s hardly surprising: Obamacare intrudes on the health-care and insurance markets and creates new bureaucracies to boot. If successful, it may also, as some Republicans fear, create new Democratic voters. Yet Republicans have never grappled honestly with the law, resorting to hyperbolic denunciations without ever offering a viable alternative for public consideration. When the House majority leader calls a law to extend health insurance an "atrocity," it’s hard to ignore the signs of panic (10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: A GOP Shutdown Strategy
Our advice is to give up on the impossible task of defunding or delaying ObamaCare at the current moment and focus instead on a quick if smaller policy victory. The House has already voted for three specific policies that might be achievable if they became the GOP's main political focus. The biggest potential victory would be a delay in the individual mandate to buy insurance, matching Mr. Obama's own unilateral delay of the business mandate to provide insurance to employees. The White House would resist, but Senate Democrats would have to explain why they favor business over individuals (10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Behind The Noise, Entitlement Reform
It would be nice if today's fight were genuinely about the future, about long-term spending. Oh wait, that's exactly what the ObamaCare fight is about. By trying to stop a brand new entitlement before it gets started, in a country already palpably and indisputably committed to more entitlement spending than it wants to pay for, those radical House Republicans aren't trying to chop current spending amid a sluggish recovery (however much one begins to doubt that pump-priming from Washington is the solution the economy needs)(Holman W. Jenkins Jr., 10/1).

The Wall Street Journal: Budget Brawl
GOP leaders haven't given up hope for a quick resolution that will allow them to quickly re-open federal agencies and save face. The top plan to move forward is to pass the continuing resolution with only one condition: eliminate the Washington exemption that allows Congress and their staffers to opt out of ObamaCare. This is the so-called Vitter amendment, named after Louisiana Senator David Vitter. Many Republicans like this fallback plan because it would be extremely difficult for Senate Democrats to turn down (Stephen Moore, 10/1).

The Washington Post: Shutdown Crisis Ignores The Real Problems
That the fixation with Obamacare has now led to a government "shutdown" is bad policy and politics. For all its flaws, Obamacare was duly passed by Congress, upheld by the Supreme Court and (indirectly) affirmed by the 2012 election. Government cannot function if determined minorities threaten to stop many of its operations every time they lose a major vote. ... And, paradoxically, Obamacare's public image might actually benefit. Without a shutdown, Obamacare's critics could blame its start-up problems on the program's inherent flaws. Now, its defenders will claim that the program is being sabotaged by Republicans (Robert J. Samuelson, 10/1).

The Washington Post: House Republicans Are Failing Americans In Their Effort To Kill Obamacare
On many of the issues stalemating Washington, we find plenty of blame to go around. We've criticized President Obama's reluctance to pursue entitlement reform. The last time the country reached the debt ceiling, we urged both sides to compromise on revenue and spending in the interest of long-term fiscal soundness. This time, fiscal responsibility isn't even a topic. Instead, Republicans have shut much of the government in what they had to know was a doomed effort to derail the Affordable Care Act (10/1).

The Washington Post: Shutdown, Schmutdown
The shutdown, which I predict will be resolved relatively quickly to permit bragging rights for all, was really a prelude to the fight over the debt ceiling, which has to be raised by Oct. 17 or the U.S. government reneges on its debts. (Simple solution to the shutdown: The Senate repeals the medical-device tax in Obamacare; the House replaces lost revenue in a separate funding bill, not the continuing resolution; the president signs a clean resolution, federal employees return to work, and everybody says, "Yay.") (Kathleen Parker, 10/1).

The Washington Post: In D.C., Compromise Is A Dirty Word (And Should Be)
Democrats did offer to keep the government running for the next six weeks at current spending levels, which is a minor concession. But their refusal to consider any deal with Republicans that involves weakening Obamacare is good news, because doing so would make the already intolerable situation in Washington worse. Compromise is usually a happy notion, but in this instance it would invite more chaos. If Democrats agree to weaken health-care reform, they will have proved that all it takes to change an existing law is for a minority of lawmakers in one chamber to threaten a rebellion against their own party’s leadership (Dana Milbank, 10/1).

The Washington Post: Painted Into A Corner: What Now?
Meanwhile, the crowd that started this confrontation seems to have come full circle. If you can believe it, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) now lectures Congress not to hold the government hostage. No, really: Lee, who has said he hopes the current shutdown will be short, said the House has tried three different approaches to funding the government — all of which changed or delayed the health care reform law — and the Senate rejected them, so it's time to try a new strategy. "In light of that, let's leave Obamacare for another day and not hold hostage the vast majority of government functions," Lee said (Jennifer Rubin, 10/1).

Los Angeles Times: Who Wants To Fix Obamacare?
The GOP's clear objective is to dismantle the act, not to improve it — and the single-minded focus on that goal is what has led to the partial government shutdown that began Tuesday. Democrats can hardly be blamed for refusing to bargain over how to sabotage the law before it fully takes effect (10/2).

Los Angeles Times: Government Shutdown: A Way Out For The GOP
[This] might be a good time for House Republicans to look for a dignified exit from the corner they've painted themselves into. Indeed, that's what an increasing number of relatively moderate conservatives in the GOP caucus have started saying. On Tuesday, Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) broke with the leadership, saying he still wanted to repeal Obamacare but that it was time to reopen the government and move on. Before that, it was Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), who said his colleagues were behaving like "lemmings with suicide vests." ... Boehner's proposal that the House and Senate meet in a conference to iron out their differences might provide the pathway to an agreement (Doyle McManus, 10/2).

USA Today: When Shutdown Ends Is Up To You
The common assumptions heading into the federal government shutdown beginning early Tuesday was that 1) there would be a last-minute deal to prevent it from happening and that 2) if there were no deal, Washington would shut down for a very short time. The first of these assumptions has already proved to be wrong, and the second is about to be shown to be just as incorrect. Instead of hours off the grid, the federal government is likely to be shut for at least a week (Stan Collender, 10/1).

Detroit Free Press: Government Shutdown Is About More Than Health Care
The government shutdown is an annoying failure of democratic governance, wrought by a minority faction’s inability to accept reality. Health care reform was passed and signed like any other law. It has withstood 41 revotes initiated by the party that opposes it (Stephen Henderson, 10/1).

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