It’s unlikely the GOP will return to health-care-reform legislation this year. (“It’s enough already,” Trump told a reporter Friday afternoon.) That doesn’t mean the fight over Obamacare will wind down, necessarily, but that it will move into the shadows. The Republican plan now, Trump told reporters, is to wait for Obamacare to “explode.” Similarly, Ryan predicted, “The worst is yet to come with Obamacare.” In all likelihood, what that means is that the GOP will now occupy itself with sabotaging the law. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, an ardent Obamacare critic, is perfectly positioned to do just that, via small regulatory actions that will attract considerably less attention than a legislative battle. The administration has already begun that work—for instance, by canceling millions of dollar’s worth of prepaid television advertisements for the Obamacare enrollment period.Sabotage as Plan B? That's plausible -- but what would Republicans do then? They'd be putting themselves in the same position they were in when they decided to repeal and replace Obamacare as their first order of business this year: They'd have to concoct a plan that could get through both houses of Congress, and that wouldn't be universally hated.
They couldn't do it this year, even with seven years to ruminate. They're not going to be able to do it in the future. Jonathan Chait states the problem flatly:
It is not possible to write a bill that meets public standards for acceptable health-insurance coverage within the parameters of conservative ideology.This doesn't mean that the sabotage of Obamacare won't take place. But if it does, it means that Republicans will be the dog the caught the car, got run over by it, recovered, and decided to chase it again, with no more idea of what to do once they caught it than they had in the first place.