Abandon the Obamacare ship!

Since at least last year I have opposed the stonewall strategy on Obamacare. I’ve thought we should fix what we can, especially given the low probability of full repeal over the next two election cycles. However, as implementation proceeds, the news worsens, insurance policies drop like flies, and polls fluctuate, I am questioning my position.

I don’t think even Obamacare’s fiercest opponents expected it to be this bad. We thought at least the website would be functional. But right now, nothing is working. The website is perpetually down (or artificially gated), the “grandfathered” individual insurance market is collapsing under the weight of regulation, exchange policy premiums and deductibles are through the roof, and for comparatively worse plans, back-end data is impossibly corrupt, and even the contraception mandate is facing new court challenges.

None of this is good news for the short term health of Americans, of course. Until we come up with a better system, a functioning insurance market is pretty important for both the physical and economic well-being of the nation. However, amidst all the chaos, there is at least political hope coming at the same time. In a new WSJ/NBC poll, while Republican support is worse than it’s ever been, President Obama and Democrats’ support is collapsing to historic lows as well. And most importantly, the poll was taken the week before the cascading news reports about the millions of insurance cancellations.

Over the next year, as the delayed employer mandate approaches, the situation could get unimaginably worse. If it does, the once-grim hopes (during and after the recent shutdown) for Republicans to retain or increase their control of Congress in next year’s elections could reverse.

If this system turns out to be as bad as we feared (and right now it’s looking worse than that), we could be looking at 2010 all over again. Obama won’t be on the ballot, and Democrat turnout is usually depressed in off-year elections, but Obamacare will be on the ballot, and in a big way. It will no longer be a referendum on the plan in theory, as 2012 was, but in practice, as the final pieces of the puzzle fall into place (and crush millions of Americans in their wake).

In electoral terms, it is looking smarter and smarter for Republicans to stay as far away from this beast as possible. If Republicans try to hobble together a coalition to pass half-measure reforms, which is probably all that’s even possible right now, but the ship still goes down in flames, they then would be at least partially responsible. Now that it’s all but certain that the ship is indeed going down in flames, we should probably paddle away in the lifeboats as fast as possible rather than go back to try to save the vessel and go down with it.

Maybe, just maybe, if the GOP wins back the Senate and increases its margin in the House in 2014, President Obama will agree to a last ditch effort to save his legacy (and his party’s chances in 2016) by repealing and replacing his signature legislative Titanic with something that can actually work.

Oh, and if Republicans need a theme song to direct at Democrats in their campaigns next year, might I suggest “Fight for You” by The Dreaming? (Not really. Probably.)

You made your bed, so go and lie in it.
You got your cake, I hope you choke on it.
Is this what you want? Because it’s what you get.
You’ve dug your grave, so go and die in it.

If you think I’m gonna fight for you, you’re wrong.
If you think I’m gonna fight for you, you’re wrong.
You’re wrong.

You made your choice, so go and live with it.
You walked out that door, now I’m closing it.
There’s no looking back, and there’s no regret.
I don’t forgive, and I don’t forget.

 


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