Unhealthy politics: The GOP's Obamacare obsession threatens trouble

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Americans get it: The Republican Party really hates the Affordable Care Act, which its diehards renamed Obamacare. The GOP did that so their base will be reminded that they have another reason to detest it, in case some weaken and decide that provisions such as barring insurance companies from using pre-existing conditions to deny coverage are actually a boon to millions of people.

In what has become an act of ritual theater, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has voted 40 times to repeal the health care law. These votes are meaningless, an exercise in self-parody, because the Democrats in the Senate are not going to approve such a bill.

But what does have meaning is the waste of time and the political obsessiveness that makes it possible. Worse yet, this unproductive behavior -- in an era when the nation has numerous other problems -- is bound to continue. The only real question is whether it will take a more destructive form when lawmakers return from their summer break on Sept. 9.

In a conference call Thursday night to his caucus, House Speaker John Boehner reassured colleagues that the party's attempt to stop implementation of the health care law will go on. But he did not signal whether he would support the Tea Party Luddites who would defund the implementation of Obamacare as part of any stopgap measure to keep the government running after Oct 1.

Adults in the Republican Party such as Mr. Boehner realize that this game of chicken could hurt the party's image for years to come. But Republican desperation grows as the Affordable Care Act inexorably moves forward. On Oct. 1, people without health insurance can start shopping for coverage.

The real hope of Republicans to overturn Obamacare is in winning the next presidential election, but that will take a record of responsibility, not recklessness. As it is, the obsession with overturning Obamacare is a pre-existing condition that threatens to harm everyone.

opinion_editorials


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