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Late Night: Watching and Waiting for the Next Shutdown

Last week, FDL’s Jon Walker stated the following: “It will be interesting to see if Republicans have finally learned their lesson and will just quietly raise the debt limit or if they again try to play games for weeks by making demands that will eventually go unmet.”

Guess what? They’re back into full-on games-playing mode: “Republicans may seek to tie a debt ceiling increase to legislation that could sabotage Obamacare with higher premiums, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) told reporters.

The official pretext is to stop what they call in Republican-speak an “insurance company bailout”. Here’s what it actually means:

The “insurance company bailout” is a reference to a burgeoning Republican effort to eliminate a stability mechanism in Obamacare — known as “risk corridors” — that is aimed at holding down premiums in the first few years of the law’s insurance marketplaces. It is financed by insurers who enroll healthier patients and pays out insurers who enroll sicker patients. But it does not have to be deficit neutral if the overall pool of consumers is sicker than projected (as early estimates suggest is so far the case).

As Daily Kos’ Jon Perr points out, this is rather, ah, hypocritically nonsensical:

Republicans need to make up their minds. They simultaneously claim that Obamacare will “destroy the private-insurance market” and will give insurers a massive “bailout” at taxpayer expense. Both statements can’t be true. (Judging the recent statements of the insurers’ CEOs—and their skyrocketing stocks prices—it is increasingly clear that neither is true.) Nevertheless, GOP leaders and their conservative amen corner are denouncing the so-called “Obamacare bailout” and demanding the repeal of Affordable Care Act provisions which for the next three years help protect health insurers from higher-than-expected costs of their newly covered customers.

Sadly, Republicans aren’t just contradicting themselves now. They are conveniently forgetting their own voting records. As it turns out, President Bush’s unfunded Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, which enjoyed overwhelming GOP support, uses an almost identical approach to “risk corridors” to encourage carriers to participate and protect them from unforeseen losses.

The Republicans are desperate to take down the ACA because of one simple reason: The Medicaid expansion that’s part of the law is very popular with Americans across the board, a popularity that will become more politically important as the issues with the website rollout fade. In Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky, not exactly a hotbed of liberalism, 60% of Kentuckians favor Medicaid expansion. That’s not good news for the sitting Senator, who has to tack to the far right to survive his upcoming primary, then try to whipsaw back towards sanity to try to fend off Alison Lundergan Grimes, his Democratic challenger who backs Medicaid expansion.

I’ve been watching and waiting for this ever since October 17. Remember, the ongoing hostage crisis is twofold, it contains both the budget and the debt ceiling components. It doesn’t matter what gets said or done on the budget if the debt ceiling isn’t either raised or eliminated, and if the debt ceiling isn’t raised or eliminated, there will be another shutdown, and it will be total this time. I said it back in November, I said it again in December, and I’ll say it again now: The Republicans are jonesing for Shutdown Two: Electric Boogaloo, and it’s going to bite them in the ass big-time.

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