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Rand Paul: Obamacare, shutdown are bad ideas

By Rand Paul, Special to CNN
October 4, 2013 -- Updated 1956 GMT (0356 HKT)
The Statue of Liberty looms over visitors below on Liberty Island in New York Harbor on Sunday, October 13. The statue was closed to the public by the federal government's partial shutdown that began October 1, but reopened Sunday after the state of New York agreed to shoulder the costs of running the site during the shutdown. Many government services and agencies remain completely or partially closed. The Statue of Liberty looms over visitors below on Liberty Island in New York Harbor on Sunday, October 13. The statue was closed to the public by the federal government's partial shutdown that began October 1, but reopened Sunday after the state of New York agreed to shoulder the costs of running the site during the shutdown. Many government services and agencies remain completely or partially closed.
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Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
Government shutdown: Sorry, we're closed
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Veterans couldn't visit the World War II Memorial because of government shutdown
  • Rand Paul: Like the shutdown itself, Obamacare makes no sense
  • He says every attempt to bargain or negotiate has been rejected by the Democrats
  • Paul: What Americans were reminded of this week is that big government doesn't work

Editor's note: Rand Paul, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Kentucky.

(CNN) -- This week, we saw the outrageous spectacle of World War II veterans being told by our government that they couldn't visit their own memorial. These former service members, who stared down the Japanese and the Nazis, were told that they couldn't step through barricades arbitrarily placed in front of their memorial because the government has shut down. Some have speculated that it might have cost more to place the barricades there than to have done nothing at all.

Regardless, these WWII heroes busted through the barricades and gathered at the memorial anyway. Good for them.

While all of this was happening, millions of Americans got their first taste of just how problematic Obamacare is. The healthcare.gov website crashed. When the complaints came, President Barack Obama said that it was just like when Apple unveils a new product -- there are bound to be glitches. I don't recall ever being forced by the government to buy Apple products. I don't recall Apple ever being tone deaf to the complaints of their customers either.

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul

Despite popular belief, all members of Congress will be forced to get Obamacare. All Congress and their staff will have to buy their insurance on the Obamacare health exchanges.

In researching the Obamacare exchanges in Kentucky, I learned that I now had a choice between just two insurance companies, whereas previously I had more than 30 choices.

But my Obamacare problems were small compared to what most Americans faced -- worries about keeping their current plans, the new law itself, what it entails, potential fines, personal privacy and in many cases, even keeping their jobs.

Like the shutdown itself, Obamacare makes no sense.

Determined veterans visit WWII Memorial
Shutdown does not stop WWII vets

No one wanted a government shutdown. Republicans have continued to offer multiple compromises that would keep the government open. I offered an amendment to keep the government open an additional week while negotiations continued. My proposal was rejected. In fact, all of our proposals were rejected.

Every attempt to bargain, negotiate or compromise has been rejected by the Democrats. Obama seems to have a "my way or the highway" attitude toward Obamacare. But as the new health care system frustrates nearly everyone, the president insists we must stay the course.

Pundits like to talk about dysfunctional government in Washington. This week demonstrated how right they are. Our government is too big, inefficient and incompetent to possibly handle American health care effectively.

Why can't this administration get its act together?

No matter what happens with the budget battle, at some point Washington is going to have to respond to the people and address the monstrous failings of Obamacare.

What Americans were reminded of this week was that Washington is indeed dysfunctional because it tries to take on too many functions. We were reminded that at the highest levels, such as national health care, or smallest, such as overseeing a war memorial, government gets just about everything wrong as a matter of habit.

And what do we have to show for this largely dysfunctional government? Annual trillion dollar deficits and a $17 trillion debt than keeps climbing.

There's no excuse for government shutting down. There's no excuse for this president to reject any and every attempt at compromise.

Still, perhaps the only thing worse than a temporary government shutdown is a more lasting meltdown and bankruptcy because of politicians who refuse to live within practical means.

What Americans were reminded of this week -- more than anything else -- is that big government doesn't work.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rand Paul.

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