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ObamaCare fight took Republicans 'off message' on spending, says Coburn

Republicans were distracted from combating the country’s rising debt by fighting to repeal ObamaCare in the clash over the government shutdown, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Sunday.

Instead of focusing on the healthcare law, Republicans should have been trying to limit government spending, he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

“The fight on ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act, took us off message,” he said. “The larger percentage of the American public knows that Washington wastes money. They just don’t have a clue on how bad it really is.”

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Coburn’s statements come as Republican Party leaders review their strategies in the wake of the shutdown and debt-ceiling fight. The crisis hurt the Republican Party in national polls and extracted few policy victories for conservatives.

Attacking ObamaCare is also a wasted effort, Coburn said, because the law “is going to fail on its own right.”

He noted the multiple problems users are having accessing the website unveiled by the Obama administration this month to help people shop for health insurance on new marketplaces.

The site has had a number of glitches and errors preventing scores from signing up. Supporters of the law say that the early bugs are typical for any tech endeavor and will be quickly resolved.

But to Republicans like Coburn, the problems are symptomatic of larger flaws in the law.

“The sick people are signing up. The healthy aren’t,” he said. “And they’re not going to because the deductibles are so high and the costs are so high and the penalties are not great enough to force them to do it.”

A weighted system like that, analysts have claimed, would make the healthcare system unsustainable, since no healthy people would be signing up and paying into the insurance network to cover the elderly and ill.