Republican’s ACA Monkey Court
I tuned in to C-span’s coverage of the congressional hearing on the Affordable Care Act website glitches just as Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey shouted, “I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever it is!” in response to a request to yield to Republican Joe Barton. How right he was.
The hearing, as expected, is nothing more than an extension of Republican’s three year battle to take down the Affordable Care Act.
The Republican majority is complaining about the functionality of a website that they’d just as soon destroy. They’re furious Americans are struggling to sign up for benefits that Republicans don’t want them to have. They’re demanding better performance of a system they’ve spent years deliberately trying to sabotage, and have no intention of trying to help fix.
The hearing will give the appearance of a committee that wants to see improvements, except those responsible for calling the hearing – the one who’ll complain the loudest – don’t want improvements at all. Their stated preference would be that the website that doesn’t work as it should to stay that way indefinitely.
And so what is, exactly, the point of the exercise? Part of this is simply an excuse to grandstand. Republicans took a beating when they shut down the government, and so they’ll take advantage of the opportunity today to release some frustration and go on the offensive by shouting at Obama administration officials for a few hours. I’m sure it’ll be quite cathartic.
The other part is to advance the GOP’s public-relations goals. A hearing like this produces media coverage that questions the administration’s competence, while possibly even discouraging consumers from signing up for coverage – which is the Republicans’ ultimate goal anyway.
To see the hearings’ theatrics as a sincere exercise related to substance and oversight is to overlook every relevant detail. If Republican policymakers want to talk about playing a constructive role in improving the system, making federal law more effective, and easing the process through which Americans get coverage, there’s ample room for that conversation.
But since they don’t want any of those things, today’s discussion is less of a hearing and more of a joke.
The monkey court is in session. BYOB – Bring Your Own Bananas.