It certainly seems like the Democrats are getting ready for the big ObamaCare backlash coming their way. A key tactic involves entering the Witness Protection Program when they hear Barack Obama is coming to town, as with last week’s comical misadventures in North Carolina, with a friendly President chasing imperiled Senator Kay Hagan all over the state like Pepe LePew running after a black cat with a strip of white paint down her back.
But are the Republicans ready for what’s coming? Because what’s coming is pretty huge. The bad ObamaCare news has only just begun. The storm-tossed, cancellation-riddled individual market is a fraction the size of the group insurance market, and when that blows up, Jonah Goldberg at National Review predicts it might spell the end of the New New Deal:
Even a popular president can usually expect disappointing midterm results for his party. What makes things particularly dire for Democrats is that a president’s approval rating has a significant impact on his party’s prospects. Obama’s approval rating is in the low 40s, and, while things can change, few would bet it will improve all that much between now and November.
One reason for that: The Obama administration is poised to give an incredible gift to the Republican party. Before the end of the year, up to 80 million people could see their health plans canceled. Economist Stan Veuger, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, estimates that at least half of the estimated 157 million people on employer-provided health plans will start losing their existing coverage by the end of 2014 because their plans don’t conform to the more generous — and expensive — demands of the Affordable Care Act. The bulk of the cancellation letters notifying employees should be going out in October, right before the midterm elections.
This could be the single most effective direct-mail campaign material in American history, and Republicans won’t even have to pay for the postage.
Yes, except… indications are that the Republicans are backing away from ObamaCare, or at least from efforts to kill it. Jon Terbush at The Week delivered the news in an article entitled “It’s Official: The Republicans Are Done Trying to Kill ObamaCare.” Actually, the body of the article makes it sound more like the GOP leadership still wants to repeal, or mostly repeal, ObamaCare and replace it with a Republican alternative proposal, which is more a change of tactics than strategy.
“In that light, simply saying that an official GOP alternative is on the way is a big step away from the nihilistic rhetoric of the past,” writes Terbush.
But their rhetoric was never entirely nihilistic; that’s a false Obama talking point echoed robotically by the media. There have been solid GOP alternatives since Day One of the ObamaCare disaster. It sounds as if the Republican leadership wants to bring the entire party together behind something they can officially brand as The Republican Alternative ™ and push with a united effort. Until now, some strategists have suggested that would be a mistake, because it would give the Democrats and their media allies a target to demolish, drawing attention away from ObamaCare’s failure. It sounds like the time for standing back and letting Americans get a taste of the nightmare souffle whipped up by the Administration’s gremlins – supposedly with nearly zero oversight from the Smartest President In History – is over, and the GOP wants an alternative they can run on.
The troubling thing about Terbush’s article are the indications that groups like the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce are giving up the fight and making their peace with ObamaCare as a permanent tumor in the American system. Terbush hilariously claims ObamaCare is “starting to gain in strength and popularity” – objectively false, and one can only wonder if whatever The Week’s writers are smoking will be legalized any time soon – but Round One of the cascade failure is grinding to a halt. It would be more fair to say that ObamaCare momentarily stopped getting worse, and the media is struggling mightily to avoid saturation coverage of the sheer chaos rampaging through the medical and insurance industries.
Round Two of ObamaCare failure will arrive in the form of those 80 million cancellation notices Jonah Goldberg described. The big X-factor is that the initial ObamaCare debacle has probably taught the Administration a few things about dealing with the coming crisis… and a lot about dealing with public perception of the crisis. The Democrat Party and its monstrous bureaucracy is bracing itself to weather the coming storm. Is there any encouraging sign that Republicans are making plans to ride the winds to electoral victory, giving an unhappy but subdued American public hope they can get their liberty, money, and a functional insurance system back again?