Obamacare — November 16, 2013 at 10:12 am

The date that matters most for the future of Obamacare: January 1


Republicans will do anything to destroy President Obama.

They’ll fall in love with Herman Cain after Donald Trump. They’ll let Darrell Issa run off every cliff and into every tunnel painted on every mountain. They’ll even develop a sudden, deep concern for the uninsured.

And now they’re pretty sure they finally have the president beat.

Savvy right-wing political operative Rick Wilson puts it this way:

Just a few weeks ago, it was confidently declared that not only would Democrats recapture the House in 2014, but they would hold and increase their Senate majority. The GOP might as well pack up, because they would never hold power again. Obamacare would be the political wind beneath the wings of Democrats for a hundred years. “Of course Democrats would run on it!”

Odd that we’re not hearing much of that triumphalism today. The monster of Obamacare isn’t just dysfunctional, it’s destructive. Americans know it.

Wilson is doing some math. He’s multiplying the the disastrous lunch of HealthCare.gov by the 5 million people who have received cancellation notices to the power of dozens of stories about mostly affluent people having to pay more for health coverage similar or worse than they have now.

weloveobamacareAnd he’s right. Until January 1, these stories will define Obamacare. But as the year 2014 begins, the game, as political journalists call it, changes.

The cancellations will all be over, the website will have been working pretty well for about a month, hopefully, and the estimated 2 million Americans who will have to pay more for what they had will dwarfed by the millions more who are paying less or nothing at all.

But the most important thing that will happen on January 1, 2014 is nothing.

For at least 80 percent of Americans who get their health insurance through their employer or the government, essentially nothing will change. We know this because it’s what happened in Massachusetts.

Of course, Republicans will blame every rate hike, every doctor who retires and every wrinkly magazine in every waiting room on Obamacare. But for every negative story, there will be thousands of people visiting the doctor for the first time in years. At that point, the battle will be for the narrative in the press and supporters of Obamacare better be prepared.

Once the new year begins, every repeal vote Republicans take, which they will be dying to take for fundraising purposes, will be a vote to take health insurance from people. And you know how testy people can be about that. As symbolic repeals lose their luster, the dissension in the GOP ranks will again become a big part of the story.

What is Rick Wilson afraid of? Another government shutdown.

In mid January, Congress will have to fund the government again. And as any Tea Partier will tell you a vote to fund Obamacare is like getting an “I love Obama” tattoo on your neck.

Wilson knows that any advantage the Republicans have is all a matter of focus. Anything that breaks that stare will put the focus back on what America despises about the GOP: the intransigence, the lack of compassion, the Ted Cruz.

Right now the media is fixated on the failures of Healthcare.gov. A shutdown will erase that almost instantly, again. When it’s over, America will wake up to discover Obamacare is in effect and life is basically the same for most Americans, and possibly even better for millions.

And then Republicans can get back to doing to themselves nationally what they’ve done themselves in California.

[CC photo credid: LaDawna Howard | via Flickr]