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It's a high-stakes showdown in Congress, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor just burst through the swinging saloon doors to call out endangered Democrats by name, asking whether they will stand with him and defund Obamacare, or face the consequences.
"I want to know where Senator Pryor stands on protecting the middle class... How about Kay Hagen in North Carolina? ... Mary Landrieu of Louisiana? ... Mark Begich of Alaska?" Cantor asked a cheering crowd.
Those names are significant. All of them are up for re-election in 2014, represent conservative states, and are "endangered species," said CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
But 51% percent of Americans say they will blame House Republicans if the government shuts down, according to a CNN/ORC poll conducted earlier this month.
"The problem is that now, because of all the focus is on government shutdown or not, it's distracting from a lot of the really bad news that we have about Obamacare," said writer with The Washington Examiner Philip Klein.
There are several problems facing the president's plan that House Republicans are not arguing.
Klein cited a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services that found the president's health plan will increase health care spending by more than $600 billion.
Several companies, Trader Joe's and Walgreen's among them, are taking drastic measures with their employees' health care plans. There are also reported problems with health exchanges, a key part of the Affordable Care Act.
"Lot of reasons why the exchanges are having trouble is because Republicans in Congress are sending demands for paperwork and other various gimmicks," said columnist for The Chicago Tribune Clarence Page.
"I'm old enough to remember Medicare, and there were problems with Medicare, too," said Page. "Obama and Biden have said all along there are going to be problems, and this is what we're seeing."
"Obama was saying is we would have an exchange that would be like Orbitz or Expedia. Imagine if you went on there and they couldn't tell you what the price of the airline was. This is going to happen," said Klein.
But the reason Republicans are threatening to defund Obamacare is not because of the substantive reasons Klein is listing, said Borger.
"The reasons they're doing this is that they went home this summer and got pummeled in their home districts by conservative Republican ads, pummeling them for not taking on Obamacare more directly, and they're afraid of being primaried on the right," said Borger.
For more of this discussion, check out the video above.
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