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The rise of 'Obamacare McCarthyism'

How far will Republicans go to enforce the party's anti-Obamacare orthodoxy? How many GOP officials will be smeared in the process?
/ Source: MSNBC TV

How far will Republicans go to enforce the party's anti-Obamacare orthodoxy? How many GOP officials will be smeared in the process?

We talked yesterday about Rep. Jack Kingston, one of several House Republicans running for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, who infuriated the right. His transgression? The congressman pushed a bill to add a conservative provision to the Affordable Care Act.
Conservatives were livid, not because of the idea itself, but because House Republicans aren’t supposed to try to “fix” the health care law. To take even a modest step towards moving the law to the right, some conservatives said, is to “surrender on Obamacare.”
We’re seeing a similar situation play out in Wyoming.

A conservative nonprofit group is set to launch a TV attack ad Monday intimating that Republican Sen. Mike Enzi is less than pure in his opposition to Obamacare. Americans for Job Security highlights the incumbent’s support for exchanges during the 2010 debate over Obamacare…. “I like the exchanges,” Enzi says in a brief clip. “These exchanges can be good.”

The ad is incredulous, as if the senator’s 2010 comments are ridiculous are on their face. It doesn’t matter if Enzi has repeatedly fought to destroy the Affordable Care Act and voted to repeal it; what matters now is that he once said it’s possible that marketplaces with competing private insurance plans are “good.”
And in 2013, that’s apparently a bridge too far.
What’s emerging is an expansive list of litmus tests – it’s not enough to hate “Obamacare,” Republicans must also hate everything within the law, including the Republican ideas.
In this case, the Wyoming attack ad concludes, “Tell Mike Enzi we don’t like these liberal, Big Government Obamacare exchanges.”
Got that? If private insurers compete for consumers’ business in a marketplace originally touted by the Heritage Foundation, it’s “liberal, big government.”
It’s hard to believe in the most gullible GOP primary voter would find this persuasive, but the takeaway here is the attack itself. We’ve reached the point at which a far-right Republican is being condemned for having described the single most capitalistic, free-market aspect of the health care law as “good.”
Josh Marshall described this as an example of “Obamacare McCarthyism,” in which “different anti-Obamacare Republicans attack each other for either being crypto-supporters of Obamacare, being Obamacare-curious or even just having earlier periods of Obamacare confusion.”
Ed Kilgore added this is “likely to be a continuing weapon against any Republican who doesn’t favor the the most radical tactics available at any given moment to bring down the Great White Whale of the Affordable Care Act.”