If Obamacare Dies, National Health Care Will Take Its Place

John Arthur Brown/ ZUMA Wire

Ezra Klein makes an argument about Obamacare that I’ve heard a lot of lately:

If Republicans wipe out the Affordable Care Act and de-insure tens of millions of people, they will prove a few things to Democrats. First, including private insurers and conservative ideas in a health reform plan doesn’t offer a scintilla of political protection, much less Republican support. Second, sweeping health reform can be passed quickly, with only 51 votes in the Senate, and with no support from major industry actors. Third, it’s easier to defend popular government programs that people already understand and appreciate, like Medicaid and Medicare, than to defend complex public-private partnerships, like Obamacare’s exchanges

This sounds pretty plausible to me. If passing a cautious, incrementalist program like Obamacare doesn’t provide any protection against Republicans destroying it, Democrats have no motivation to bother with cautious, incrementalist programs. They might as well just bend the rules, pass national health care, and be done with it. If insurance companies don’t like it, tough. Democrats contorted themselves into pretzels to design a program acceptable to insurers, and were rewarded with disaster. Insurers screwed up both their pricing and participation so epically that they brought Obamacare to its knees, and when Republicans proposed ditching the whole thing they just sat on their hands. It’s obvious now that the support of the insurance industry provides zero—or maybe negative—benefit. So the hell with them.

And that’s all in addition to the fact that the Bernie movement has made single-payer health care a live possibility in a way it’s never been before.

Republicans are basically hellbent not on any positive agenda, but on repealing everything Obama did in his eight years. Dodd-Frank. Obamacare. Paris. Higher taxes on the rich. A less interventionist approach to the Middle East. Immigration. Cuba. Net neutrality. Almost literally, they have nothing left of their own that they’re interested in doing. If the technology existed, it wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to reanimate the corpse of Osama bin Laden on the grounds that it was a mistake to kill him and leave the field open to ISIS.

Note to Republicans: I’m just joking about that.

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