Republicans Nearing a Dead End on Obamacare

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Greg Sargent says that although the Obamacare website debacle scared some Democrats, in the end virtually none of them meaningfully abandoned the law:

It’s clear they believe the worst is now over and it is safe to return to the message they always expected to adopt.

I know I’m a broken record here, but folks are overlooking the possibility that no matter how unpopular the law, the Republican stance on health care may prove a liability, too. The basic Dem gamble is that disapproval of Obamacare does not automatically translate into zero sum political gains for Republicans, and that voters will grasp that one side is trying to solve our health care problems, while the other is trying to sabotage all solutions while advancing no constructive answers of their own. Polling shows disapproval of the law does not translate into majority support for GOP attempts to repeal or sabotage it, and Dems think this will only harden as more people enjoy the law’s benefits.

It’s funny that Republicans don’t believe their own propaganda. For years, they’ve been hellbent on repealing Obamacare because they knew that once it was fully implemented in 2014, it would have millions of beneficiaries who would fight to keep it. Once the benefits of a new program start flowing, it’s very, very hard to turn them off.

They were always right about that. By the middle of 2014, Obamacare is going to have a huge client base; it will be working pretty well; and it will be increasingly obvious that the disaster scenarios have been overblown. People with employer health care will still have it and very few will notice even a minor change in their normal routine.

Given all this, it’s hard to see Obamacare being a huge campaign winner. For that, you need people with grievances, and the GOP is unlikely to find them in large enough numbers. The currently covered will stay covered. Doctors and hospitals will be treating more patients. Obamacare’s taxes don’t touch anyone with an income less than $200,000. Aside from the tea partiers who object on the usual abstract grounds that Obamacare is a liberty-crushing Stalinesque takeover of the medical industry, it’s going to be hard to gin up a huge amount of opposition. And that’s doubly true since, as Sargent says, the Republican Party will have no credible alternative for a benefit that lots of people will already be getting.

Maybe I’m missing something. But either Republicans are seriously miscalculating, or else they’re simply betting the farm on the hope that Obamacare will be an epic disaster. Maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way, I think they’re fooling themselves pretty badly.

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