Republicans in Washington are determined to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. This week already, Sen. Mike Allen (R-Utah) proposed a government shutdown if Obamacare isn’t repealed. Steve Benen lists several other ways Republicans are determined to either stop the law or make sure it doesn’t work.
It’s taken a few years, but the GOP has managed to talk itself into a very firm belief that this national version of Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health plan is a satanic abomination that will either, depending on which talking point they are following at any particular moment, crash and burn taking the entire U.S. economy down with it, or succeed in seducing Americans to sell themselves into the voluntary slavery of “socialized medicine.”
If they really believed it will crash and burn, I don’t think they’d be quite so frantic to stop it. If it crashes and burns, this would give the GOP a great issue for the 2014 midterms. If they really believed it will crash and burn, I think they would just step aside and let it. But if they can sabotage it …
Paul Krugman wrote a few days ago that Obamacare is the Right’s worst nightmare —
Yglesias is right: there will be bobbles along the way, but this is going to become an immensely popular program. By the time Liz Cheney challenges Hillary Clinton’s reelection campaign, there will be signs at the rallies declaring “Don’t let the government get its hands on Obamacare!”
Conservatives are right to be hysterical about this: it’s an attack on everything they believe — and it’s going to make Americans’ lives better. What could be worse?
Byron York probably speaks for many righties when he says that once Obamacare is in effect, it will be too late to repeal it entirely. That’s because people will like it. He says,
When Washington conservatives gather to talk among themselves, and the discussion turns to Obamacare — it happens pretty frequently — it’s not unusual to hear predictions that the president’s health care law will “collapse of its own weight.” It’s a “train wreck,” many say, quoting Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. It’s unworkable. It’s going to be a big, smoking ruin.
So what’s the problem?
On the other hand, a lot of thoughtful conservatives are looking beyond Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, the day the law (except for the parts the president has unilaterally postponed) is scheduled to go fully into effect. On that day the government will begin subsidizing health insurance for millions of Americans. (A family of four with income as high as $88,000 will be eligible for subsidies.) When people begin receiving that entitlement, the dynamics of the Obamacare debate will change.
At that point, the Republican mantra of total repeal will become obsolete. The administration will mount a huge public relations campaign to highlight individuals who have received government assistance to help them afford, say, chemotherapy, or dialysis, or some other life-saving treatment. Will Republicans advocate cutting off the funds that help pay for such care?
The answer is no. Facing that reality, the GOP is likely to change its approach, arguing that those people should be helped while the rest of Obamacare is somehow dismantled.
What the GOP continues to ignore is that the rest of it can’t be dismantled without dismantling all of it. The program is about a lot more than subsidies. The many moving parts work together to make it possible for more people to get insurance. Even many who don’t get subsidies will be paying lower premiums.
So, yeah, it’s starting to sink in to some of them that they’d better kill Obamacare now, or they’re going to find themselves in a far more unfavorable political landscape.
See also Jonathan Cohn, Conservatives Brace for the Possibility Obamacare Won’t Totally Suck and Charles Pierce, Mike Lee’s Latest Great Plan.