The Longterm Politics Of Obamacare

Avik Roy susses them out:

Now, thanks to the colossal foul-up of the Obamacare exchange software, we might not get to 24 million exchange enrollees by 2017. But let’s say it’s half that. That’s still 12 exchange plus 12 Medicaid equals 24 million Obamacare enrollees by 2017. Is the Republican nominee for President in 2016 really going to run on a platform of taking health coverage away from 24 million Americans? Especially after the Republicans ran in 2014 on ensuring that Americans can keep their health plans? …

It’s hard to imagine a Republican winning the 2016 GOP primary by stepping back from the party’s insistence on repealing Obamacare. But it’s also doubtful that a Republican can win the 2016 general election by throwing 24 million Americans off of their health plans. And therein lies the rub.

Indeed it does. But the GOP hardly has a reputation for thinking ahead, does it? The party that gave us Gitmo and no post-invasion plan for Iraq and no adjustment on taxes, even as the debt ballooned, tends to wing it, then hunker down in compounded error. It’s a way of life for them. Greg Sargent flags the above ad, from the GOP primary for a Georgia Senate seat. The ad attacks Rep. Jack Kingston for suggesting that Republicans fix Obamacare. The whole concept of responsibility, dealing with reality, or coming up with constructive solutions to emergent problems … well, that’s not the Republican way. The Republican way is to keep mouthing the same slogans of late-Reaganism until their jaw muscles seize up.

And, of course, as Greg notes, “Kingston is now furiously walking back his apostasy, pointing to his dozens of votes to repeal the law as proof that his zeal to get rid of it knows no bounds”:

Democratic lawmakers and candidates at least have some flexibility to deal with problems as they arise — they can call for fixes while defending the law’s broader goal of expanding affordable health coverage. Republicans don’t have any flexibility. Remember, a recent CNN poll showed that only Republican voters believe the law should already be pronounced a failure, while moderates and independents still think its problems can be solved. Republican lawmakers and candidates must continue to insist on full repeal and nothing else, even as the number of people gaining coverage continues to mount.

Dems will seize on this to argue that Republicans are only interested in sabotaging Dem solutions and are unwilling to engage in constructive governing. They will contrast this with their own “keep and fix” stance, noting that one side wants to fix the health system, and the other wants to go back to the way things used to be.

Charlie Cook wonders whether Obamacare will doom Democrats during the midterms. Bernstein pushes back:

The opening of the exchanges was a natural media event, and when opened with catastrophic problems, it’s not surprising that the result was a press frenzy. But the exchanges are no longer in total disrepair; whether the experience is now pretty good, or sort of okay, is not the kind of story that drives a lot of press coverage. Nor are there all that many news hooks remaining. …

The fundamentals of the 2014 cycle suggest small Republican gains. Gains, because the president’s party usually loses seats in second-term midterms; and small, because in the House, Republicans already hold most of the seats they normally can compete for. It’s still too early to know if those expectations will be met, but there’s nothing in the numbers so far that would indicate anything unexpected. Either way, it’s unlikely that health care reform will move a lot of votes this time around.

I just don’t know.