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How our political system is built for gridlock

MinnPost illustration by Jaime Anderson

I’m impressed by how much trouble the Republicans are having getting anything done. The Senate health agonies are the latest and best example. Two of the three health care ideas that Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to offer to the Senate have been voted down.

I thought McConnell, who certainly hasn’t gotten where he is through charm or charisma, was supposed to be the kind of backroom dealer and master vote counter who knew how to push the buttons and turn the cranks to make things happen. The next version, the so-called “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, which leaves most of it in place, may come up for a vote today.

(In the haste to push something through, the Senate hasn’t allowed for much analysis of the likely impact of “skinny repeal,” which repeals both the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and some of the taxes that paid for the ACA’s expansions of coverage. But a quick CBO study says it might result in 16 million fewer Americans being insured.)

Maybe Senate Republicans will get the skinny version or some other version of health care through today. Maybe McConnell has a secret plan. But at the moment it appears to be a secret he hasn’t told even himself yet. If something passes all the way into law (the House, of course, would have to agree; President Trump will apparently sign anything they pass, even though it contradicts many promises on which he ran) that might undermine some of what I’m about to argue, but the points are still valid.

The parliamentary system

In a classic parliamentary system (where there is no real separation between the executive and legislative branches, where one house of Parliament holds most of the power, and where that house is run by either a majority party or a majority coalition) the idea is that the government is supposed to be able to govern, which means it must be able to pass its bills. If it can’t, a special election may be triggered to allow the electorate to weigh in to produce a new Parliament and allow them to put together a government that can govern. It’s not foolproof, but it’s built for action in a way that ours isn’t.

Ours is built for gridlock. We don’t exactly love gridlock. Even our supposedly anti-government party, the Republicans, don’t love gridlock because they have at all times a list of government programs and taxes they want to reduce or do away with.

But something approaching gridlock has become the new normal over recent years, especially in our system’s most current version. In the new normal each party usually has the means to block the other in at least one of the branches, and the promising areas for real bipartisan compromise have mostly gone away.

But at the moment, we have the relatively rare situation of one party controlling both houses of Congress and the White House. The last time we had that situation, at the beginning of the Obama Administration, Democrats were able to muscle through the Affordable Care Act, although it wasn’t easy or pretty.

Then in that case, the Supreme Court, where a majority of Republican-appointed justices sat, substantially weakened the law (although Republican Chief Justice John Roberts did prevent it from being thrown out entirely, to his undying disgrace in conservative circles).

So far, no big accomplishments

At the moment, we have a Republican president, Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and a majority of Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican presidents. And yet, after six months, the all-red lineup hasn’t done anything big and can’t even repeal the Affordable Care Act, which most Republicans have been promising to do for years.

They may yet get it done (not that I’m rooting for that outcome). But what does their current torment tell us about our system? At the risk of engaging in I-told-you-so-ism, I would like to bring up a piece I put up exactly one year ago today, headlined: “The U.S.: a four- or five-party country jammed into a two-party system.”

I’m not claiming a brilliant or original analysis. But I do think the headline was a good first step toward explaining what’s going on. The Democrats can be divided into two main factions. There’s a far left (by American standards) that borders on what are called social democrats in other systems. The Bernie Sanders candidacy increased the prominence of this group and the number of Democrats who are willing to openly call for a single-payer health-care system has increased markedly. (Yes, I know, Sanders is not a Democrat, but support for his ideas grows within the Democratic Party.)

The other party within the Democratic Party consists of moderate liberals reasonably well personified by Hillary Clinton, but a group that stretches from Hillaryism to the most conservative Democrats, like Minnesota’s Collin Peterson or West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.

The Republicans can be divided into three parties. There are moderates like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who probably agrees with Joe Manchin on more things than she does with her party’s right wing. There’s the right-wing, perhaps personified by some combination of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who are so oriented toward less government that they are really almost Libertarians (Rand Paul was raised as a Libertarian) but who prefer to be nominal Republicans because minor parties don’t win many U.S. elections.

The incoherent fifth party

The fifth party, the newly created Party of Trump, is hard to describe coherently because it is incoherent. At the moment, it is part cult of Trump’s personality, and part a vessel for expressing the anger and frustration of the white working class without many programs to help their non-rich constituents.

If I’m right about this, it’s easier to see why the three-headed, three-hearted Republican Party can’t agree on a health care bill, at least in the Senate. Until recent developments, I assumed that something that could be called “repeal and replace” would get enough votes to pass. Now we don’t know. I did not see this coming, but it makes a certain sense if you think of the Repubs as a coalition of three parties that has decided to form a temporary partnership for the purpose of governing, a la the parliamentary version.

In the European version of parliamentary-ism, a failure to come together on such a major vote might trigger new elections. We have no such mechanism. The next election is 18 months away; the presidency won’t be part of it. And not much governing may occur in the meantime.

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Comments (40)

The hothouse branches of the

The hothouse branches of the Republican party have bloomed because they have been allowed the luxury of being able to spout the most ridiculous ideas without having to bear the ultimate consequences of their realized rhetoric. They were like Lenin and the proto-Communists in exile--arriving in Moscow, it all becomes more difficult--the "dictatorship of the proletariat' merely becomes a dictatorship because of the resistance and truly awful things are justified solely upon the reasoning of the grand rhetoric of the exile.

But we do have

impeachment.
Won't replace the whole government; just the Executive.
On the legislative level recall referenda are possible.
Not as neat as the parliamentary system, but there are some actions.
Elections are not set in stone, as Nixon found out.

I'm not sure gridlock will

I'm not sure gridlock will save anything--if the 'skinny repeal' is passed by the Senate, it will go through the house like a bad curry and be on Trump's desk in a couple of days where his pen is waiting.

And Trump and Mooch will dine in triumph.

Not much governing

I'm afraid the party I used to belong to a few decades ago (that would be the Republican Party) has demonstrated several times in recent years that it's not capable of governing, having been captured by various bits of ideological quackery that simply don't translate into the real world. "Supply-side" economics is one (properly called "Voodoo economics" by people smarter than me); an obsession with nonexistent "voter fraud" is another, one that's really a code phrase for "people voting who are not like us, or who don't already agree with us," and there are several others that MinnPost readers can rattle off without too much trouble.

Normally, or at least in years and decades past, I'd be fuming over the inability of Congress to even get its house in order, much less pass legislation. In this administration, with this Congress, however, I'm frankly hoping they never get their act together, nor pass any sort of meaningful legislation.

Nothing that the current version of the Republican Party has proposed, from tax cuts for upper-income people who don't need them to gutting an imperfect health-care system that is at least much better than the "health care for the well-to-do" setup we had previously, which was hardly a system at all, to a variety of attempts to turn females into little more than breeding stock, I've not seen many legislative proposals from Republicans, either in Minnesota or the nation, that I'd like to see enacted into law.

More to the point, however, and endorsing gridlock isn't something I enjoy doing, what the current gridlock does, if nothing else, is illustrate the intellectual and ethical bankruptcy of Republican ideology as expressed in policy proposals. In some cases, they haven't even made an attempt to justify policy proposals in terms of how our society at large will benefit from them. Instead, the policies are being proposed as either punishments for groups Republicans don't like, or badly-disguised rewards for the nouveau-riche who provide much of their campaign money as well as their intellectual foundation.

As long as the Current Occupant and his plutocratic cabal are in control of the government, I'm inclined to favor gridlock over action.

Not configured to govern – not able to lead

The Republican Party is made up of a very disparate group of folks and every group of three think they are the way forward for the party. The party is structured to obstruct and without a leader they can only flail and fail. Without any Republican leaders, what they have is gridlock. The Democrats don’t need to get in the way of the Republicans as the Republicans are doing a good job of getting in their own way.

Republicans campaigning on falsehoods have come home to roost proving false campaigning has consequences. Those falsehoods have entrapped an entire party because of a single word that was part of their 7 plus year campaign dogma – REPEAL. So powerful is the word REPEAL it has stopped the Republican Party from accomplishing any of their stated goals because REPEAL is what they have told their supporters to expect. If the Republican Party is good at anything, it is the constant drumbeat of falsehoods that only serve the select few in the Party. As the Party continues to come apart, those who were told by the President that he would support them has turned into another falsehood. Many of the Republican supporters have been duped into thinking the Party would help them.

Some Republican supporters are hooked on the President’s bravado. They are finding out there is nothing beyond the bravado but crudeness, disrespect, inflammatory language, paper-thin skin, threats, incomplete sentences, and a very weak President. Much of what Trump does is not for the people but only to feed Trump’s need for attention caused by his extreme narcissism.

I don't know.. I always have misgivings about this analysis

It's not the first time we've seen this analysis, but I always have a visceral reaction against it.

I guess what bother me is that in some way it normalizes what is obviously a severely and historically disfunctional Political Party i.e contemporary Republicans. This kind of gridlock and disfunction is not normal- our Government has functioned quite well for almost 200 years. Really really big and important legislation from the New Deal to civil rights has been enacted.

Sure we can compare our system to parliamentary systems but Italy has a parliamentary system, and they're not exactly know for their rapid and fluid responses to national crises. Democracy is just a gamble that people will take their governance seriously if given a chance, and it can go wrong if people don't. American conservative AND liberals have been denouncing government in one way or another for decades to the point where the whole notion of citizenry has nearly become incoherent. That's not normal, that's not a design feature.

If we frame this as a design feature, we take ourselves out of the problem, and the people of a democracy take themselves out of the problem... it won't end well.

There have been more than a

There have been more than a few articles that have made the point that moving a democratic society to a less democratic society is done by the persistent violation of governing norms and really does not involve the creation of a new set of law--just a new interpretation.

Overton window, and all that.

The current healthcare legislative debacle is a good example of that. A decade of lies and empty promises, an executive that knows nothing and cares little, and legislative bodies ready to do anything to try to make the lies somehow come true.

Gerry Mander

Part of the problem is the proliferation of 'safe districts' produced by gerrymandering done by both parties (though more blatantly by the GOP).
So on a practical level elections have been replaced by primaries, where getting nominated means appealing to a smaller and more radical portion of the electorate than an election.
This means the people who are elected are less likely to be the sort of people who would work on a bipartisan level, making it harder to pass legislation that might be controversial.

"muscled through" Obamacare with lies....

I hope the "skinny bill" passes. I am tired of the constant, uncontested democratic lies for the last 7 years.

Hey Eric, did Obama lie about his health insurance bill?

American Democracy 101

Presidents don't pass bills -- they propose them.
It's Congress who actually writes and passes bills.
(actually, it's usually staff members who actually write the bills).

your right

Obama signed it and lied about it - along with all the other democrats.

Hear him!

Hear him!

Seven Years of Lies, Indeed

"Elect us, and we will get rid of Obamacare, root and branch, on day one."

Gridlock is a feature, not a

Gridlock is a feature, not a flaw.

Anyone who understands US history and the US Constitution understands this.

Again...

Any attempt to justify the dishonesty of one person or president by pointing to the dishonesty (real or imagined) of another, is morally vacant and fundamentally irrational. Just because someone else built death camps and killed millions of people doesn't mean it's OK for another person to do. The notion that's it's OK for Republicans to inflict suffering and damage upon the nation and it's people because the Democrats did it previously (assuming that charge is historically accurate), is almost and expression of pure evil because it literally converts moral reasoning into immoral reasoning.

Obviously it's would be a really really bad idea to let those would celebrate suffering for whatever reason do our moral reasoning. Likewise it would be foolish to let those who would celebrate inflicting damage upon our nation- make public policy.

This is not a "normal" feature..

Let's very clear,

The Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate were about to pass sweeping legislation involving billions of dollars, and impacting millions of American lives, without a single public hearing. Every single bill the Republicans tried to pass had been crafted in secret. That is NOT a normal feature of our congressional system.

Furthermore, several Republicans voted for a bill they they themselves described as a disaster. Republican Senators were convinced that this was a bad bill they only voted for it when Paul Ryan promised that it wouldn't get passed the House and make it into law. Now think about that... "OK I'll vote for garbage as long as you promise me it won't ever become law."? This is not a normal feature of our legislative process. This is duplicity, incompetence, stupidity, and irresponsibility on an historic scale. This is NOT the way the system is designed to work.

When the Democrats passed

When the Democrats passed Obamacare, 72% of the public was strongly against it. Let's do be clear.

You can have all the public input you want; it doesn't amount to diddley-squat if they don't listen.

Yes be perfect clear...

There's no comparison between the ACA and the garbage the Republicans have been peddling. When the Democrats passed the ACA it was after almost a year of public hearings, expert testimony, and serious analysis. I think they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by simply expanding Medicare but the ACA was NOT written a back room by a bunch of guys who never realized how complex health care is.

Yeah, the ACA was enacted along partisan lines, but that's because no Republican had any interest in recognizing or solving the health care crises. Be that as it may, the ACA saved lives and made stable and affordable heath care available to millions of Americans. This garbage the Republicans were trying to pass would have killed people, raised prices, and destabilized the markets. Even the "skinny" repeal would have simply blown a hole in the Medicare budget (blowing holes in budgets is a Republican specialty).

I'd rather save lives and make good policy without any Republican votes, votes than let people die and suffer for want of bipartisan votes.

Our current government is an

Our current government is an 18th century "representative democracy" that doesn't work at the scale of today: 300 milllion people, many of whom have little or no knowledge of anything outside of their daily lives. This form of government evolved to deal with things like land and property rights, trade and defense, and can't begin to cope with scientific issues, or evolving and changing morality. We live in what is basically a media-created world where everything is packaged and sold as a sports metaphor; today's political parties are artifacts of that style of coverage.

"When the Democrats passed

"When the Democrats passed the ACA it was after almost a year of public hearings, expert testimony, and serious analysis."

Public hearings wherin the overwhelming majority of the public said "no". Experts and serious analysis that delivered what everyone now acknowledges is a steaming heap of failure.

Obamacare is insurance millions cannot afford to use. The same people that used the ER as their personal clinic are still using the ER as their personal clinic, and in addition niw people that *had* insurance they liked and could afford now find themselves effectively shut out.

Democrats would rather let those people suffer and die than tarnish the legacy of Obama. See how that works?

How Much

Of that 72% of the public opposed did so based on lies about death panels? How much of that 72% was carrying signs proclaiming "Keep you government hands off my Medicare"?

If Faux news and the conservative echo chamber gin up lies and more lies, and the main stream big corporate media paints a picture of false equivalence, I really don't care if 72% were opposed.

A majority of voters chose HRC last November. Just when do majorities matter?

Millions

You like being clear, yes? Those millions of which you speak represent what, 5% of the insurance market? Furthermore that 5%, those on the individual market, is then further subdivided, removing those who qualify for subsidy and are doing quite well. Leaving what? Some disgruntled folks who make to much for subsidized premiums, but too little to afford them alone. THIS is what you would destroy ALL of the healthcare system for, that you would deprive the sick, the aged, the poor, of LIFE ITSELF for?
THIS, which could be solved with a simple increase in subsidy, and a funding guarantee to insurance companies, that would amount to a rounding error in the defense budget. What is wrong with the conservative mind, have none of you any decency left? How can you walk about in public, interacting with those you revile so MUCH, that you would take away their lives without a second thought. How can you do it!

Right. Nothing wrong with

Right. Nothing wrong with Obamacare a steady, ever increading stream of tax money wont cure...

Except, if that was true, Minnesota public schools wouldn't be sporting one of the largest minority fail to graduate rates in the country.

As opposed

To the conservative prescription of an endless stream of preventable deaths, both physical and financial, yep I'll take it. Considering the alternative to public education is a populace divided into an educated aristocracy and an uneducated slave base, I'll take public education too.

"Considering the alternative

"Considering the alternative to public education is a populace divided into an educated aristocracy and an uneducated slave base, I'll take public education too."

You have both. The endless stream of preventable deaths has not changed with the advent of subsidized insurance at all.

You also have an insanely expensive public school system AND an uneducated population (unless you dont count 40 some odd percent of minority kids part of the population).

Havin' your cake and eatin' it too....don't get much better than that, does it friend?

How Do You Feel

About the never ending boatloads of money that are being spent to liberate Iraq & Afghanistan? Talk about results, we are no safer than we were on 09/10/01, and very likely less safe.

But I never hear conservatives complain about the blank check the military gets.

Well...

You can pretend that there was nothing wrong with health care BEFORE we had Obamacare, but any metric you point to was worse before Obamacare. It's funny, people act like premium rate hikes didn't exist before the ACA but they were far more widespread and typically in the double digits most years... and that had been going on for decades.

Those of who advocate for single payer always knew that the ACA wouldn't deliver universal coverage and would have minimal impact on rising costs, but there's simply no denying that millions of Americans are better off than they were before, over all it was positive and constructive policy.

At any rate, the Republican had absolutely NOTHING on the table except more of the same magical thinking, and once Americans started living with Obamacare, they found that most of them liked it... the majority do NOT support repeal, and they're afraid of whatever garbage the Republicans were trying to replace it with.

And here's the other thing about the ACA...

By the way, you have remember that Obamacare was Hillary Care before it was Obamacare, and before that it was a Heritage Foundation paper... Even though Obamacare actually contained more conservative Republican initiatives than progressive initiatives Republicans STILL wouldn't vote for it.

One of the problems Republican actually ran into with their repeal of and replace initiative is that when they finally looked Obamacare they found that it already contained most of the initiatives Republicans wanted anyways- they were basically trying to repeal their own initiatives.

"A Heritage Foundation

"A Heritage Foundation paper"

Actually, it was a script for a comedy skit performed at a HF fundraising dinner. A lefty mole lifted it, Obama and the DNC took it for an amazing piece of public policy.

The rest is history.

Your history is... not.

Here's a link to the 1989 Heritage foundation report. If you read it, you will find that Obamacare incorporated many of it's suggestions, the most interesting of which of course is the individual mandate that Republicans NOW hate so much.

http://www.heritage.org/social-security/report/assuring-affordable-healt...

So the ACA is garbage crafted

So the ACA is garbage crafted by experts operating in open defiance of the majority of the public.

Im not really sure that's a thing to be proud of, but OK.

Perhaps to You

I doubt the millions of Americans who were uninsured until the ACA think of it as garbage. The rate of personal bankruptcies due to medical debt has shrunk considerably.

Actually...

At the time, the VAST majority of Americans knew that we were in the midst of a health care crises and wanted government to do something about it. At the time, Democrats had garnered the support of all of the major stakeholders from the insurance industry to the providers. It was the Republicans, who had NO plan and simply refused to work towards a solution were in defiance of public opinion. While the public was apprehensive about the ACA, they wanted something done, and now clearly, they want the ACA retained and improved, not repealed.

While you can claim to some extent that Americans were leery about the effectiveness of the ACA, you cannot claim it was garbage, or at least if you do claim it's garbage, you should explain when and how the majority of American's developed their affinity for garbage.

In the meantime, the recent Republican effort WAS garbage that would have exploded premiums, destabilized the markets, and thrown millions of American's out of health care. And it was all concocted in a back room with no hearings, no testimony, and no support whatsoever from industry. AND it was deeply unpopular.

Obviously some Republicans think that this was all about turning around and doing to the Democrats what they think the Democrats did to them when Obamacare was passed. The problem is what was "done" by Democrats was serious health care legislation that improved the lives and well being of tens of millions of Americans. The Democrats didn't just ram garbage through the process with a majority vote, they crafted actual policy that successfully addressed many serious problems. They had to pass with Republican votes because Republicans were opposed and remain apposed to rational health care policy.

"Democrats had garnered the

"Democrats had garnered the support of all of the major stakeholders from the insurance industry to the providers."

The Democratic party; fighting the good fight.

"The problem is what was "done" by Democrats was serious health care legislation that improved the lives and well being of tens of millions of Americans."

By what measure? Obamacare, as you point out so helpfully, is insurance legislation, crafted with the assistance of the financial beneficiaries, while excluding the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Americans.

Every bad consequence (for consumers) that was elucidated by critics has come to fruition; every one. Blue Cross would agree you have some mighty tasty insurance law there, but "health care"? Nope.

One man's garbage is another man's treasure. I think we've proved that beyond doubt.

By what measure?

Well, it's called: "Health Care Metrics", otherwise known as objective evidence. 17 million previously uninsured and un-insurable Americans got coverage, and more importantly received health care. Restrictions due to existing conditions, coverage limits, and many coverage denials were eliminated. It's estimated that this saved as many as 24,000 lives a year. If Obamacare did NOTHING else, this alone would qualify it as a successful public policy. However, in addition to saving lives by providing direct health care, public health programs that detect and and respond to disease outbreaks were also strengthened and the number of Americans who succumbed to such outbreaks annually dropped. Likewise food surveillance programs that monitored pathogens in the food supply were strengthened and outbreaks associated with adulterants decreased.

Millions of Americans who were already insured saw dramatic improvements in their coverage. Preventive medicine, mental health coverage, and a variety of basic needs were now mandated and people could no longer be dropped for a variety of capricious reasons like becoming sick or injured and actually needing health care. Likewise family members on the plan couldn't be dropped. This provided health care security and stability to millions of Americans... and it saved lives and reduced suffering.

While one of the weakest claims of the ACA was that it would contain or reduce costs, it did slow down increases for years, and even with it's increases it provided more affordable options for millions than were available prior to ACA. Critics point to "double digit" increases but they often fail to note the actual cost of the premiums. For instance some Minnesotan's who saw double digit increases (I think it was around 20%) were paying $50 a month. That meant that their premiums were "jumping" up to $60. These were still affordable plans that simply didn't exist prior to the ACA. The exchanges actually worked, but we always knew theat it was a matter of time before market pressures would start pushing costs and premiums up again.

The Republican "plan" to dismantle the exchanges by simply repealing Obamacare would cost American's billions and thrown millions out of coverage, basically resetting clock backwards. The repeal and replace options the Republicans devised behind closed doors without input or assistance from anyone who knows anything about health care would have been just as bad or worse than a repeal alone. For instance one group of people that Obamacare failed to serve was younger Americans who had to buy SOME kind of insurance or pay a penalty. The only affordable policies available to some of these people have such high deductibles that any serious medical claim could wipe them out financially... they couldn't afford to use the policies they were being forced to buy. OK, that's bad. However the Republican "plan" did absolutely nothing for these people. The Cruz Amendment would simply have created a cottage industry selling similar plans with even less coverage for more money. So these people would have ether ended up without any coverage, or they would have ended up with policies that cost more but covered far less. We know this because THAT'S what we had before ACA.

NOTE: I went back and edited this comment to fix some typos and what not.

And by the way...

Let's not forget that although public support for Obamacare when it passed wasn't overwhelming, it was far more popular than the "plan" Republicans were trying to pass. Public support for the ACA when it passed was around 40%, while only 12% of American's support the recent Republican "plan".

"17 million previously

"17 million previously uninsured and un-insurable Americans got coverage, and more importantly received health care."

The first part of your statement can be verified, but not only did many of those 17 million NOT recieve care, many who were recieving care prior to Ocare found themselves unable to meet the new deductibles and out of pocket costs.

Not even the Democrat leadership disputes this...hell, even CNN has thrown in the towel on that tired, whipped horse.
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/01/middle-class-worke...

"Restrictions due to existing conditions, coverage limits, and many coverage denials were eliminated. It's estimated that this saved as many as 24,000 lives a year."

Estimated by who; how? Put it out here for inspection.

"Millions of Americans who were already insured saw dramatic improvements in their coverage."

See the CNN link for a thorough shredding (again) of that trope.

You throw out a lot of numbers, and make completely unsupported statements, which is a tactic becoming less seen as the facts become impossible to gaslight.

Obamacare is a disaster. It is unsustainable and hurt as many as it helped. Lets just admit the obvious and move on.

Credibility....

Curt, you describe a CNN article and then point to a USA Today website that simply describes an ongoing health care crises that no one is denying. I'm not the one playing a debate a game here.

The data regarding Obamacare and it's positive impacts for Americans is clear and undeniable, which is why the Majority of Americans oppose it's repeal. Reliable data is also easy to find for anyone who has a genuine interest in locating it, so I'm not going to post more links. Yes, I throw out a lot of facts, that's how intellectual work is done. You on the other hand throw out a lot of unsupported declarations. A USA Today article that describes ongoing problems with health care coverage in America doesn't REFUTE the positive accomplishments of the ACA; it simply describes problems that the ACA hasn't solved or addressed.

I don't know anyone who denies the fact that Obamacare has failed to provide universal coverage, or that it's failed to contain costs and premiums, again, that was predicted. That doesn't however convert a programs that has provided affordable health care to millions, and improved the quality of health care for millions more, into a COMPLETE disaster. If it were the complete disaster you describe, the majority of Americans would support the Republican "plan", not reject it by a margin of 85%. You don't "fix" disasters yet that's exactly what American's want Congress to do, they want Obamacare "fixed", not dismantled.

It was a typo, clearly. At

It was a typo, clearly. At least I cite sources for the statements I make.

Speaking of which, you say the article doesnt refute the supposed benefits of Obamacare. Fair enough, here's one that does...and take note; its from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading Obamacare cheering section.

The dwindling number of apoligists willing to step forward to defend Obamacare are left to hang their hat on the number of previously uninsured that now have coverage. They leave out the millions that STILL don't have coverage, and for good reason; they don't want anything to do with it.

"Among the uninsured – a key group for outreach under the law – unfavorable views now outnumber favorable views by roughly a 2-to-1 margin (47 percent versus 24 percent). This is a change from last month when 43 percent of the uninsured had an unfavorable view and 36 percent were favorable. More of those without coverage say the law has made the uninsured as a group worse off (39 percent) than better off (26 percent)."

http://hierl.com/2014/02/07/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-for-january-2014/

The GOP has failed miserably to deal with the mess Obama & the Democrat party has made of health care, but that isn't any kind of endorsement for retaining it.

This isn't a high school debate game

The "problems" that Kaiser is pointing to, all existed for decades before Obamacare went into effect. Obama didn't create uninsured Americans or rising health care costs. I don't know anyone who denies these problems exist, but the idea that Obama and the Democrats created these problems is simply not grounded in historical reality. People like myself have always endorsed something like Sanders's Medicare For All, or some kind of single payer system. We're not apologizing for Obamacare, we're simply looking at the relevant metrics and data and recognizing where there have been improvements, and where more work needs to be done.

No one would expect any majority of people who have been left uninsured by the ACA to have a "favorable" view of the ACA, nor should they, but that observation doesn't render Obamacare a complete failure.