An existential weakness of the Romney candidacy was that criticism of ObamaCare, the President's signature initiative, was off the table. As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney had pushed through a health law centered around a mandate on individuals to purchase health insurance, the most unpopular aspect of ObamaCare. Freed from Romney's inconvenient record, the GOP has remembered that ObamaCare is both unpopular and unaffordable. Yesterday, Speaker Boehner said the health law "must be on the table" during negotiations over the fiscal cliff.
"We can’t afford it, and we can’t afford to leave it intact," Boehner wrote in theCincinnati Enquirer. "That’s why I’ve been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation’s massive debt challenge."
With rosy economic assumptions, some wishful thinking and a little bit of fudging, ObamaCare almost works on paper. It will not, however, withstand the harsh realities of the real world. Enormous tax hikes take effect next year to pay for the coming benefits. Hundreds of new regulations will be implemented which will begin to reshape health care in this country. And, as the year progresses, employers will change how they operate to minimize the increased costs of ObamaCare.
The debate over ObamaCare provoked a groundswell of opposition to Obama and the Democrats. It propelled one of the bigger GOP landslides in history. The grass-roots then paused, waiting for the Supreme Court to throw out the law or for Obama to lose reelection. Neither, of course, happened. The GOP is smart to refocus on the law as it nears implementation.
Opposition to ObamaCare cooled a bit after passage. This isn't surprising, as the law hasn't yet come into effect. The unintended consequences of it, however, will become clear next year as its impact looms. Opposition to the law will increase.
The GOP has little hope of rolling back ObamaCare during the fiscal cliff negotiations. Still, it is right to raise the issue now. The full weight of ObamaCare will be felt ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections. It could, yet again, propel another GOP landslide.
Without Romney as its standard-bearer, perhaps the GOP is remembering what it stands for.
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