PITTSFIELD -- Republicans should have stuck out the shutdown fight, Berkshire County Republican Chairman Jim Bronson said Thursday.

Bronson would have preferred to avoid a government shutdown, but once a fight was on, Republicans shouldn't have blinked, he said.

"I'm not sure why the House fought for something if they were going to capitulate," Bronson said.

He would have preferred to see a fight on the Affordable Care Act, which was the central issue behind the shutdown, go all the way.

"I think it was really important for Congress to deliver more to the American people than this," said Matt Kinnaman, a former Republican candidate for Congress.

The shutdown was triggered after House Republicans wanted to defund the Affordable Care Act, but Obama and Democrats opposed the move.

"Obama tells us this is the law of the land. They rammed it in using every parliamentary trick they could," Bronson said.

"They tell us it's not a tax (but) tell the Supreme Court it is a tax," he said.

Kinnaman noted that the health care law's tax on certain employers was delayed for a year by Obama, but the individual mandate has not been delayed.

"It's inconsistent with a fair application of the law," Kinnaman said. Congress never voted on the waiver.

"They go out and put in exemptions for all of their cronies," Bronson said. "They have a $650 million website that doesn't work."

"The IRS is controlling and administering the way your health care works," Bronson said.

Under the law, the Internal Revenue Service will verify the income of those who receive health care subsidies and ensure that everyone either has health insurance or pays a penalty.

"It's a classic big government boondoggle," Bronson said.

"What's missing at a minimum is they passed legislation that didn't include the repeal of a medical device tax and requirement that Congress and the administration participate," in the Affordable Care Act, Kinnaman said.

Kinnaman was referring to a provision of the law by which congressional members and their aides would be required to participate in state health insurance exchanges.

The Office of Personnel Management recently ruled that congressional members and aides would receive subsidies to purchase insurance from state exchanges.

That section of the law became controversial because Republican Sen. Charles Grassley required that members of Congress and their staff get insurance from the exchanges and there was disagreement by some Republicans over whether the federal government should subsidize participation in the exchanges.

Bronson also called the actions of President Obama "sophomoric" in closing down national memorials, monuments and national parks, which he said should have remained open.

Bronson cited closed spots such as the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Wall and Olympic Park. He also referred to the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. which was initially closed but later opened.

"They did it to inflict pain," Bronson said.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were furloughed, though others weren't if they were deemed essential.

Kinnaman believes the shutdown could have been avoided if Democrats agreed to pass funding resolutions for all of the country's operations besides the Affordable Care Act, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opposed that approach.

"It didn't need to drag on until the eleventh hour," Kinnaman said.

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
nmayberg@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6243