Guess what? According to Jonathan Bernstein, we won!
The GOP push for Obamacare repeal is deadSo all these people shouting and screaming "REPEAL!" at us are just engaging in theater? Well, that's not exactly what Bernstein is saying:
... Step back and add up all of it, and there's one clear conclusion: repeal -- flat out, go back to where things were in March 2010, that kind of full repeal -- is totally dead.
... This hardly means that we've reached a stopping point in which Obamacare is safe, much less that serious health care arguments will end. Even if Healthcare.gov finally functions properly and the exchanges generally "work," that doesn't mean that serious reform efforts will end. Conversely, if implementation gets even uglier, then a next round of reform would be certain. It's just that whatever comes next will be building on the ACA, not on the status quo ante. Because by now, that old status quo is just not around any more.His point is that the businesses wouldn't want to overhaul the status quo completely, so they'd build on what we have now. I don't understand this argument: Obamacare overturned the status quo, and the business community was willing to undergo that overhaul. Why wouldn't businesses be willing to revert to the status quo ante -- or, more likely, the status quo ante with lots of business-friendly sweeteners (strict award limits on medical lawsuits, insurance sales across state lines combined with the establishment of one state as a low-regulation oasis for insurance providers, etc.)? With those gifts from (presumably) a GOP federal government, do you really think the powers-that-be would be upset at having to rejigger their computer systems so they can deny or modify coverage as easily as they did in the pre-Obamacare days?
Ahh, but Bernstein has an answer for that:
No one is ever going to kick young adults off their parents' insurance (or change the law so that insurance companies are allowed to do it). No one is going to bring back the various limitations in pre-ACA insurance policies. Some trimming of the new Medicaid rolls might be possible. But no one -- no politician who has to face reelection, at least -- is going to just toss all those people off their insurance with nothing to replace it."No politician who has to face reelection" would hurt people that way? Is Bernstein serious? Republicans in state after state -- Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Michigan -- have made it clear that hurting ordinary citizens is their first order of business when they gain governing power. They've taken away the right to unionize, the right to vote, and the opportunity to obtain an abortion; they've curtailed all sorts of benefits; they're willfully refusing to expand Medicaid despite the generous pots of money being offered by the federal government.
And what's been the response? Many of the teabaggers and Kochites doing these things are likely winners in their next reelection fights. Polls suggest that beaten-down voters are unable to rally enough outrage to drive the Scott Walkers and Rick Snyders from office.
Part of the problem, as Kevin Drum notes, is that a lot of voters don't even realize that Republicans are the problem. Drum cites a Washington Post story in which we meet a Georgian who needs health insurance and can't afford it:
[Donald] Rizer did not have a new job lined up. He had come down to Rome after leaving a carpet factory several years ago. He needs shoulder surgery but can't afford insurance. And because of a quirk in the health-care law, and the fact that Georgia declined to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income people like him, Rizer can't qualify for a subsidy to buy coverage on his own.As Drum says:
When he visited the federal health insurance exchange Web site, he found the cheapest policy available to him cost $200 a month -- one quarter of his current salary. "Obama," he said, "he thinks that he's helping things, but he ain't."
... Rizer should soon qualify for free health coverage thanks to Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid. The reason he's not getting it is because (a) conservatives on the Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion optional, (b) Georgia's conservative governor has refused to be "bullied" into joining the expansion, and (c) conservatives in the Georgia legislature supported him.Wave a gun or talk about Jesus, and in most of the country you'll never be blamed for your own party's policies, if you're a Republican.
But who does Rizer blame? Obama, of course.
So, yeah, I do think they'll keep trying to repeal Obamacare, at least as long as it seems to be a troubled program (and even if the kinks get ironed out, Republicans are going to do their level best to make it seem like a troubled program, or at the very least a parasitical program that benefits only the lazy).
"Repeal" is a simple, easily understood message. It's going to be mandatory for GOP congressional candidates in 2014 just the way it was in 2012. And bad implementation plus relentless GOP propaganda is likely to make "repeal" the 2016 GOP message as well.