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Maybe, finally, the Republicans have jumped the shark in their fight against Obamcare. Maybe it was the 39th repeal vote in the House. Maybe it's the Senate nihilists call to shut the whole government down in order to defund the law. Whatever did it, they've lost American Enterprise Institute thinker Norm Ornstein, and when you've lost the AEI ...
For three years, Republicans in the Senate refused to confirm anybody to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the post that McClellan had held in 2003-04—in order to damage the possibility of a smooth rollout of the health reform plan. Guerrilla efforts to cut off funding, dozens of votes to repeal, abusive comments by leaders, attempts to discourage states from participating in Medicaid expansion or crafting exchanges, threatening letters to associations that might publicize the availability of insurance on exchanges, and now a new set of threats—to have a government shutdown, or to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, unless the president agrees to stop all funding for implementation of the plan. [...]

What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous—just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing. [...] [T]o do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible. One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one's breath away.

Welcome to the club, Mr. Ornstein. Actually, he's been in the club for a while, having written a book with Brookings fellow Thomas Mann that places a good chunk of the blame for a dysfunctional government on the Republicans. But this, this is something more. He's calling out Republican leadership, not just the tea party extremists, for sabotaging government.

It's refreshing to see a conservative who thinks that other conservatives fighting this hard to take affordable health insurance away from millions of people is in and of itself a bad, immoral thing. It's also refreshing to see a conservative—and a pundit, no less—recognize and say out loud that the Republican Party has gone completely off the rails and that we're not dealing with just a new normal of governing. The inmates have overrun the GOP asylum, Ornstein is suggesting. Maybe if he keeps saying it often enough and loudly enough, establishment Washington will recognize it, too.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 02:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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