In Washington, Countdown to a Shutdown
By Doyle McManus
September 22, 2013
“The American people don’t want the government shut down, and they don’t want Obamacare. The House has listened to the American people.”
That’s what Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said at the GOP’s victory rally Friday after the House voted to pass a spending bill that cut all funding for the president’s healthcare law — and took the country one step closer to a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
The American people, alas, weren’t in the room to speak for themselves. But was Boehner right about their desires? Polls show that most Americans are, not surprisingly, divided.
Yes, a majority doesn’t like Obamacare. They’re unsure about what it will do and worried that it might make their healthcare worse. But do they really want to defund the law, and risk the chaos of a government shutdown to do it? Probably not, most polls suggest.
As one Republican pollster told me, though a majority of voters don’t like Obamacare, they’re not angry enough about it to risk a fiscal crisis that could hurt the economy.
So why are Republican lawmakers hearing a different message? Because most of them represent districts so conservative that they are listening only to their own choir. “It’s clear where the public in my district is,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a tea party firebrand. “They want Obamacare repealed. They want it defunded. They want it dismantled.”