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Even the GOP Knows Obamacare Works

peaker John Boehner tapped South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy to head a new panel probing the Benghazi "coverup."
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

House Republicans finally recognize what many Americans already know: Obamacare works.

Of course, no upstanding, rightward-thinking, Obama-hating Republican would utter such a heresy in public. No, it’s a given on the conservative right that the Affordable Care Act is a government takeover of the nation’s health-care system; that it can never work; and that it will collapse in utter failure sooner or later.

None of that is true: Signups to buy insurance from private companies through the new exchanges exceed expectations, and the percentage of younger and healthier people buying insurance is high enough to guarantee only a modest increase in premiums.

Republicans can’t concede any of the above because that would be an admission of error and would undercut the anti-Obamacare narrative in which they have invested so much time and effort.

But they can change the subject, which is what they have done in the past week by once more stoking the Benghazi fires. And Republicans can thank the administration for stupidly giving them the excuse to look again into the night of September 11, 2012.

It took a Freedom of Information request from Judicial Watch, a conservative organization, to force the administration to release a memo written by Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes four days after the attack in Benghazi in which four Americans died. The memo was intended to prepare Susan Rice for her appearances on several Sunday talk shows. Pointing to anti-American protests that began in Egypt and then spread through the Middle East, Rhodes urged Rice “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

Republicans pounced on the document as a “smoking gun” proving the administration covered up the truth about the attack because it wanted to maintain, only weeks before the 2012 election, that organized terrorism, in the form of Al-Qaeda, had been so eviscerated by American actions that it could not organize an attack like the one on the U.S. facility in Benghazi. The Republican accusation never made much sense, and numerous investigations, congressional probes, and released documents have failed to prove a coverup.

Two points about Benghazi: First, the administration committed the cardinal sin of releasing the document under duress, ignoring the oft-stated political truth that it is far better to get everything out in the open at the beginning. By not turning all the evidence over initially, the administration appeared to be hiding something.

Second, there is something to investigate on Benghazi, but it’s not the accusation the administration spread a false narrative for political reasons. The real subject to probe is the the lack of adequate security at the Benghazi facility on the night of the attack. But Republicans can’t investigate State Department security expenditures because that spending was cut at the behest of GOP lawmakers.

Darrell Issa has been the chief Benghazi prober in his role as chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, but John Boehner snubbed the buffoonish Issa and his committee, instead naming a select committee headed by Representative Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina. “Trey Gowdy is as dogged, focused, and serious-minded as they come,” Boehner said. “His background as a federal prosecutor and his zeal of the truth make him the ideal person to lead this panel.”

Gowdy quickly proved there’s much of the prosecutor still in him, if not a very focused one. Asked whether his panel might still be working during the 2016 election, Gowdy answered, “If an administration is slow-walking document production, I can’t end a trial simply because the defense won’t cooperate.”

A trial? Since when is a congressional investigation a trial?

But honesty can be refreshing, and Gowdy apparently was confirming the GOP’s agenda for the rest of President Obama’s term in office, which is not to legislate but to investigate, investigate, investigate.

Only Republicans learned last week what can and can not be investigated when they summoned a half-dozen insurance executives to a hearing to criticize the ACA. Unfortunately for the anti-Obamacare narrative, the insurers deviated from the script, surprising GOP legislators by relating the ACA’s success. The executives said the law has not led to a government takeover of their industry, noting that their stock prices are up. They failed to predict huge rate increases next year, and they said their companies already were receiving federal subsidy payments which make insurance more affordable for millions of Americans.

Oops! Better change the subject. No more probes of Obamacare.

Bring on the alleged Benghazi coverup. No matter that there is no there there. It makes for good theater and easy administration bashing.

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