By Bill Press - 10/07/13 10:27 PM EDT
A funny thing happened on the way to the big government shutdown: It proved to be a bust before it even started.
That’s not to say the Republican shutdown hasn’t done a lot of harm. It’s already having a disastrous impact: on the markets; on the economy; on the lives of 800,000 federal employees; on the critical work of agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; on poor women and children. And that pain will only get worse the longer the Republican shutdown drags on.
All Tea Party rhetoric to the contrary, the Affordable Care Act has already proven effective, and faster than expected. It’s been the law of the land for three years. In its first year alone, according to the CDC, 2.5 million young people under the age of 26 signed up for coverage on their parents’ healthcare plans. Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with a pre-existing condition. Nor can they dump longtime policyholders because they suddenly develop a serious, and costly, illness.
Then, starting Oct. 1, the main provisions of ObamaCare finally kicked in, enabling some 30 million Americans who don’t receive health insurance at their job to buy it through state or federal health exchanges at record-low rates. So many people, an estimated 8 million, tried to visit the site in the first two days, that the system crashed. There’s no excuse for that, but it does show how much pent-up demand there is among working Americans for basic healthcare for themselves and their families. For the first time, millions of Americans can now afford health insurance, especially with the help of federal tax credits available to individuals with an income of up to $46,000 a year, and a family of four earning up to $94,000.
Untouched by the Republican shutdown, it’s clear that ObamaCare will continue to grow in success and popularity until it takes its place alongside Social Security and Medicare as one of three permanent protections for all Americans. And then, nothing will change except that Republicans will stop calling it “ObamaCare.”
Meanwhile, the question remains: If the GOP shutdown did not derail, defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, then what is it all about? Not even Boehner seems to know anymore. This will be remembered as the shutdown about nothing.
Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of The Obama Hate Machine.