Obamacare Derangement Syndrome

Noam Scheiber writes that the Republican Party is the Titanic, and the Affordable Care Act is the iceberg.

Conservatives are counting on the implementation of Obamacare to be a train wreck of epic proportions, which will allow them to triumph in the 2014 midterms, not to mention the 2016 presidential election. They believe this as fervently as they believed Romney was winning 2012 in a landslide.

If you want to appreciate how truly incorrigible conservatives are on the subject, I recommend watching them grapple with the early news about Obamacare implementation, which has suggested the program could work better than anticipated. It’s a bit like watching a speculator learn he’s bet his life savings on a failing company—which is to say, chock full of denial and elaborate self-delusion.

To soothe their troubled spirits and bridge the cognitive dissonance, Avik Roy of Forbes published a highly dishonest screed purporting to prove that insurance rates were about to skyrocket up. Scheiber continues,

“Obamacare drives up insurance premiums by up to 146 percent in California,” screamed The Daily Caller. Even after a succession of wonks highlighted the glaring flaws, the editorialists at The Wall Street Journal leaned on Roy to declare an “ObamaCare Bait and Switch.”

I hope the Administration is preparing a big information campaign that will explain to everyone what’s expected next year, because I don’t think most people know. But other than that, I don’t see a train wreck coming.

Ed Kilgore discussed why the Right is so obsessed with Obamacare. Of course, many of them seriously believe it is socialism. But this reason stood out for me.

They think they’re on the right side of public opinion as well as of history. It’s sometimes hard to remember how rarely Republicans, even when they are winning elections, are on the positive side of public opinion on a specific issue. The polls showing consistent majorities of the public disliking Obamacare is a deeply satisfying phenomenon for the Right. It’s so satisfying, indeed, that conservatives to a remarkable extent almost never come to grips with the evidence that a sizable chunk of Obamacare opponents support a larger government role in health care—such as the socialist abomination of Medicare For All—and that an even larger chunk seem to favor nearly all the individual elements of the ACA. Never mind: consistent majorities oppose Obama’s namesake accomplishment, and that’s a firm rock on which all other political strategies and messages can and must depend.

I think that by November 2014, most of the electorate will have realized Obamacare isn’t so bad after all, and might even be doing some good. So whether it will have any real impact on the midterms remains to be seen.