Whether Coats will succeed in shifting attention away from the divisive shutdown and toward the long-shot goal of bipartisan cooperation on the deficit remains to be seen. Earlier this week, a poll released by Washington Post/ABC News found eight in 10 Americans disproved of the shutdown. And many blame Republicans: CNN released a poll Monday that found three-quarters of Americans believe GOP members of Congress don’t deserve to be re-elected. Congressional Democrats’ image took a hit too, but the Coats conceded that the GOP brand, according to several media polls released this week, has sunk to an all-time low.
Coats said he opposed the strategy executed by Tea Party-aligned Republicans that led to what was the third longest government shutdown in 37 years, in part because of the failed result: The president’s signature health care law remains intact. Coats said he warned supporters of the strategy that they couldn’t sway enough Democrats to support their plan to defund the Affordable Care Act, nor would President Obama ever agree to kill the law.
“The math just didn’t add up,” Coats said.
Coats said he still opposes the healthcare law, but believes the only real shot at repealing it is for Republicans to keep control of the House and win back the Senate in 2014, while winning the White House in 2016. He’s confident that now that shutdown is over, the political heat will shift back to the troubled rollout of the online health insurance exchange and the Obama administration’s admission that its hired outside experts to rewrite flawed computer code that has hampered the exchange website and left most users unable to sign up.
“I think it just points out the dysfunction of the federal government in terms of its ability to do anything effectively and efficiently,” Coats said. “The fed government is just mired in dysfunction and this thing is just proving it. It’s unraveling all by itself.”