Fighting Obamacare a 'loser' for GOP, ex-Utah Gov. Huntsman says

Published: Sunday, Sept. 29 2013 6:40 p.m. MDT

Republicans can't win the divisive fight over Obamacare, and if the government shuts down, it wouldn't be for long, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Sunday.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A government shutdown wouldn't last long in the divisive fight over Obamacare that Republicans know they can't win, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Sunday.

"We're going to get beyond politics real soon, and then the real world does take over," he said on "Meet the Press." "If there's a shutdown, it will be a 24-hour shutdown."

Huntsman said it would be better to identify problems in the Affordable Care Act and fix them as the law proceeds.

"Republicans know this is a loser, so they're going to have to learn the lessons of this whole episode, and that will be you can't have an all-or-nothing approach," said the 2012 GOP presidential candidate.

The Republican-led House passed two amendments to legislation Saturday that would keep government running when the new budget year begins Tuesday. One repeals the medical device tax, while the other delaysthe Affordable Care Act for a year.

Sen. Mike Lee said he backs the changes, which the Democratic-controlled Senate almost certainly will reject.

"I support what the House did last night based on what I’ve heard about it,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

"Republicans are doing everything that we can to protect America from a shutdown and protect America from the harmful affects of Obamacare. This law is not ready to be implemented."

Lee, one of the most zealous opponents of the Affordable Care Act, said President Barack Obama has already made exceptions for unions, big business and other special interests.

“If it’s not ready for some, it’s not ready for everyone, and we should delay it for everyone," Lee said. "The best way to do that is by defunding it. The only way to do that is in connection with the continuing resolution."

All four Utah congressmen, including Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, voted in favor of the amendments to the funding resolution.

"I voted for these provisions because I support these policies," he said after Saturday's vote.

"However, the most important issue at hand is avoiding a government shutdown, and I am disappointed that the leadership of the House of Representatives chose to add other issues to a funding bill that will not be accepted by the Senate and could very well lead to a government shutdown in less than three days."

Rep. Rob Bishop said few Americans are ready for Obamacare, which called one of the most intrusive and expensive policies ever signed into law.

"Even the president has acknowledged that there are serious problems with Obamacare, which is why he has unilaterally implemented delays of certain parts of the law," he said.

Huntsman said politics aside, it will be an "important experiment" this year to see if the plan works.

"We have a law. Let's recognize that. People who are waiting this week to find a health care policy that fits their circumstance, that's the real world," he said. "The question is how to make it work for people across this country."

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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