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July 23, 2013 3:07 PM Killing Obamacare Before It Can Work

By Ed Kilgore

In my earlier post about the growing interest of congressional Republicans about demanding a “defunding” of or delay in Obamacare implementation as the price for cooperation in a debt limit increase or appropriations agreement, I may not have adequately discussed another motivating factor: the fear that once implemented Obamacare will become politically irrevocable.

That is the argument that Byron York of the Washington Examiner stresses in a response to those on the Right who keep talking about Obamacare “collapsing” of its own weight:

[A] lot of thoughtful conservatives are looking beyond Oct. 1 to Jan. 1, the day the law (except for the parts the president has unilaterally postponed) is scheduled to go fully into effect. On that day the government will begin subsidizing health insurance for millions of Americans. (A family of four with income as high as $88,000 will be eligible for subsidies.) When people begin receiving that entitlement, the dynamics of the Obamacare debate will change.
At that point, the Republican mantra of total repeal will become obsolete. The administration will mount a huge public relations campaign to highlight individuals who have received government assistance to help them afford, say, chemotherapy, or dialysis, or some other life-saving treatment. Will Republicans advocate cutting off the funds that help pay for such care?
The answer is no. Facing that reality, the GOP is likely to change its approach, arguing that those people should be helped while the rest of Obamacare is somehow dismantled.

Now this is, of course, a variation on the old fear of conservatives that Obamacare will provide a whole new meal of socialist treats seducing Americans into socialist dependence. It’s only half-compatible with the more often articulated claim that Obamacare is a job- and freedom-leeching disaster; the ultimate, if implicit, claim is that it will shower undeserved benefits on some people at the expense of others, with the latter category including the truly productive element of the citizenry.

But since conservatives haven’t figured out how to restrict the franchise to their kind of people, it makes sense politically to make a surgical strike on the “bribes” offered by Obamacare before they are a living reality. Since that’s what the “base” would like to do in any event, you can see how it could come to represent a strategy of interest to all sorts of Republicans.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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