Yesterday, the power of incumbency to shape the political agenda and try to shape public opinion was on full display. The Republican-led legislature held hearings on the Affordable Care Act. They weren’t interested in learning anything useful. They just wanted to bash the program.

Democrats correctly called the show political theater. And that’s what it was–at taxpayer expense. They only called witnesses who opposed the program, including a guy who, according to the article, once called Barack Obama a fascist. He came to the hearing with the competing qualifications of Duke University scholar and right-wing bomb thrower.

In North Carolina, the GOP is doing everything they can to make the program fail and keep the attacks on Obamacare in news. It’s working. The hearings were being live-tweeted by GOP hacks and they showed up on the front page of the local section of the News & Observer. They should have been required to open the hearings with a political disclaimer: “This message has been approved by the GOP legislature and paid for at government expense.”

According to the article, a Blue Cross executive said the insurer is seeing an “increase in expensive imaging, costly drugs and heart conditions.” My interpretation is that people who obviously need health care are finally getting it. The right-wing Duke guy just sees it as a program that’s too expensive.

And that’s the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are focused on the impact that policies have on the quality of life for even our most vulnerable citizens. Republicans are only interested on the impact policies have on pocketbooks.

And it explains why Democrats have long wanted a plan for universal health care, like every other industrialized nation, and why Republicans don’t.