Right now the political landscape is grim for Republicans–and in the short term, thanks to the so-called fiscal cliff, things may get grimmer still. But moments like these can pass, often quicker than we think. And next year may turn out to be one in which the pernicious effects of the Affordable Care Act–aka ObamaCare–really begin to kick in, from higher premiums to the loss of employer-based health insurance to the start of enrollment in insurance exchanges. It will become more and more clear to the public what a nightmarish law the Affordable Care Act actually is.
“The administration is well behind schedule,” my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague James Capretta told Byron York of the Washington Examiner. “It’s going to be a train wreck in a lot of places.”
The Affordable Care Act is President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Even before its worst effects have been felt it was, according to the presidential scholar George C. Edwards III, “perhaps the least popular major domestic policy passed in the last century.” If conservatives are correct about the inherent flaws of ObamaCare–and I believe they are–it could well become a political millstone around the neck of Democrats for much of the rest of this decade and beyond. This will have ramifications far beyond what happens regarding the fiscal cliff.
As the problems with the Affordable Care Act mount, Mr. Obama will do what comes most naturally to him: blame others. In the end, though, ObamaCare is his baby. It’s one of the most far-reaching progressive achievements in modern times. And it will, if the conservative view of the world is right, turn out to be a policy disaster of the first order.
In 2010, Mr. Obama got what he wanted. He signed the Affordable Care Act into law. In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality. And it 2013 liberals and Democrats may well learn the wisdom of the words, “Be Careful What You Wish for ’cause It Might Come True.”