"The Obamacare fight is not a cynical exercise. It is a life and death issue. Voters care deeply."
Columnist Ralph Benko writing in Forbes: "The main battleground in the fight to break the prevailing political stalemate will be the fight to repeal what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calls the 'monstrosity' of Obamacare."
We have been down this road in 2010 and 2012, but what is different now is that the harsh realities of sticker shock, coverage loss, and chaotic implementation will be lodged in voters' minds as the 2014 election approaches.
And the Democrats are inextricably yoked to "the bitter fruit," in Benko's words, of Obamacare:
The chickens of Obamacare are coming home to roost. There are some mighty ugly chickens in the flock. Given the uglier side of Obamacare now becoming visible, the historical trends, and McConnell's strategic political savvy President Obama should be bracing himself to receive the political shellacking of a lifetime come November 2014.
Mr. Benko cites Chris Frates, writing at National Journal, in observing that McConnell is a key player in leveraging the opposition to Obamacare into a 2014 Republican Senate Majority:
And with the law moving from the largely theoretical to the demonstrable, the health care debate is poised to return to intensity levels not seen since before the law passed.
For congressional Republicans, it's probably their last, best chance to turn opposition into political gain.
And much of that job falls to McConnell, a brilliant defensive coordinator who will have to play flawless offense if he hopes to take control of the Senate next year.
The intensity level could be daunting for Democrats. The Cato Institute's Michael Cannon, posted at The Daily Caller, quotes a Health and Human Services official:
We are under 200 days from open enrollment, and I'm pretty nervous...The time for debating ... is it a world-class user experience, that's what we used to talk about two years ago. Let's just make sure it's not a third-world experience.
The balkanized nature of the insurance exchanges and the "implementation troubles" on the horizon could leave the unpopular individual mandate vulnerable to delay, if not repeal.
Peter Suderman, at Reason.com, asks:
So what happens if the exchanges aren't ready on time? Or what if the exchanges open--but there are big problems with enrollment? ...
...if even a handful of the exchanges--remember, there's one for every state--aren't open or aren't broadly functional, then large numbers of people are likely to have trouble complying with the individual mandate.
And if that happens, there will be an awful lot of pressure to repeal, or at least delay, the mandate...If complying with the mandate is difficult enough, then it's possible--maybe not likely, but possible--to imagine Democrats agreeing to strike the provision, or delay its implementation.
And what then? Well, Democrats have (probably correctly) pointed out that the law's insurance industry reforms don't really work without a mandate to ensure that most everyone buys in. But here's the thing: If the mandate gets taken down under the above scenario, it'll be because the law isn't working with the mandate either.
Like a prisoner hoping for release on appeal, freedom-loving Americans - consistently outnumbering the health care law's supporters - keep looking for a way out of Obamacare.
As Michael Cannon observes, "Obamacare supporters may scoff at repeal. But if vulnerable Democratic senators start hearing from their constituents about the chaos and sticker shock they experience later this year, the scoffing will cease."