Look, the GOP is going to cave and pass a clean CR and a debt ceiling hike. You know it, I know it. Obama has shown his willingness to make regular Americans suffer, via his antics with national parks, suspending clinical trials at the NIH, and the Pentagon cutting off payments to the families of fallen soldiers, because he knows the media is never going to call him on it and the public isn't going to blame him more than they blame Republicans. You think he won't let America go into default? You can talk about how the Treasury can prioritize payments when the debt ceiling is reached to prevent an economic meltdown, but if you don't think Obama would willingly crash the economy if he thought he could profit politically from it, then you haven't been paying attention for the last 5 years.
The GOP knows he holds all the cards here. They're going to cave and pass a clean CR without defunding or even delaying ObamaCare. Maybe they're spineless, maybe they're just being realistic, but I'm not here to argue that point. I'm here to explain why their actions, regardless of their motives, are good for those of us who want to see ObamaCare eventually repealed.
Obama is never going to sign a repeal of his signature legislative accomplishment. Period. It doesn't matter if he loses the Senate, it doesn't matter what political pressure is brought to bear on him because now that he's in his second term he has nothing to lose. If he repeals ObamaCare he's a laughingstock. The guy who was supposed to usher in a bold new era of liberalism and belief in government would be forced to admit that he instead made liberal governance toxic. Right now he's a hero to the left. If he loses ObamaCare, he's nothing.
So he's not going to sign a repeal, even if Republicans manage to win back the Senate next year and somehow get a repeal through cloture. That means the only way we can make it happen before 2017 (and it must happen before that) is to somehow override his veto. But Republicans would be lucky to win control of the Senate in 2014; a 2/3 majority will be impossible. And that's assuming we can even count on the GOP to attempt repeal in the first place.
Well, one of my favorite political quotes of all time comes from economist Milton Friedman, the architect of Reagan's 1980 tax cut. When asked if it was necessary to change Congress in order to make the right things happen, he responded:
It's nice to elect the right people, but that isn't the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.
So we need Democrats on board with repeal. And the only way the Democrats are going to feel the political pressure to override their leader is if their constituents are clamoring for it. That means we need to get liberals and low information voters to make it clear that their Senators' jobs are at stake if they don't act fast to repeal ObamaCare.
Sounds impossible, right? It's not. In fact, it's not even difficult. You know what we have to do to make it happen?
Over the next few months, most employers who offer insurance benefits to their employees will be holding open enrollment. Employees will be choosing insurance plans for themselves and their families for the next year. In the past, they've usually had a few options with different levels of coverage, varying deductibles and premiums.
This year, people are going to find out that they don't have as many options, and that the options they do have just got a lot more expensive. It's already happening: this Daily Kos diarist was shocked to discover his premiums have doubled (and as the commenters there note, he's a longstanding member of the site, not a conservative troll). Those comments are delicious, by the way. Half of them are blaming the greedy insurance company while the other half are apologists who are trying to convince him that paying a higher premium is his civic duty.
Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.
Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.
Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.
Part of this is because high-deductible plans that don't cover prescriptions or preventive checkups are no longer legal under ObamaCare. So some people have to purchase more expensive plans. $10k is probably an edge case, but $1800 isn't. I've got friends who just saw their premiums jacked up by $1500.
Open enrollment this year is going to destroy ObamaCare. Because everyone's premiums are going up, and make no mistake: the insurance providers will make it clear that "the Affordable Care Act" is the reason why. A lot of liberal heads are going to explode and a lot of supporters are suddenly going to turn into detractors overnight.
The media, which has heretofore been Obama's greatest political weapon, will undoubtedly make excuses. They'll blame the insurance companies, they'll blame Republicans, but mostly they'll either ignore the story altogether or hunt down edge cases from the few people who actually see their premiums go down (usually people with pre-existing conditions). But the media will never be able to change the numbers people see in their paychecks.
That's the killer. That's what's going to undo ObamaCare if anything can. All those low information voters who pulled a lever for Obama because they thought he was cool are about to get an education. Come January, nobody is going to care about the current shutdown.
That's why the GOP caving is a good thing. I want ObamaCare gone as much as any conservative, but most people in America don't care enough about it to justify the current shutdown, much less hitting the debt ceiling. Sometimes you have to let people suffer the consequences of their actions. They need to experience the pain caused by ObamaCare firsthand before they're willing to do something about it. Defunding, or even delaying ObamaCare will just prevent that from happening.
So let the GOP cave. Let the American voting public feel how painful ObamaCare really is. We have an entire year until November 2014's elections, an entire year of people having to adjust to significantly less income. If that doesn't light a fire under them to demand a repeal of this abomination, then nothing will. And if those demands aren't met, well, then that's what elections are for.
As for me, I'll be attending open enrollment tomorrow myself. I'm not looking forward to seeing my premiums go up. But I will have (to quote Ace of Spades) a full-blown schadenboner when I see all those young, healthy, idealistic Obama supporters realize how badly they're getting screwed by the man they voted for.
Wish me luck.
Update: Well, as expected, the premiums for my health care plan went up spectacularly. By almost 60%, in fact, which is even more than I estimated. And the first slide of the presentation was about -- you guessed it -- "health care reform." Maybe that'll knock some sense into people.