'Only the American people can kill ObamaCare.'
Daniel Henninger, writing in the Wall Street Journal:
An established political idea is like a vampire. Facts, opinions, votes, garlic: Nothing can make it die.
But there is one thing that can kill an established political idea. It will die if the public that embraced it abandons it.
Six months ago, that didn't seem likely. Now it does.
The public's dislike of ObamaCare isn't growing with every new poll for reasons of philosophical attachment to notions of liberty and choice. Fear of ObamaCare is growing because a cascade of news suggests that ObamaCare is an impending catastrophe.
Big labor unions and smaller franchise restaurant owners want out. UPS dropped coverage for employed spouses. Corporations such as Walgreens and IBM are transferring employees or retirees into private insurance exchanges. Because of ObamaCare, the Cleveland Clinic has announced early retirements for staff and possible layoffs. The federal government this week made public its estimate of premium costs for the federal health-care exchanges. It is a morass, revealing the law's underappreciated operational complexity.
But ObamaCare's Achilles' heel is technology. The software glitches are going to drive people insane.
Creating really large software for institutions is hard. Creating big software that can communicate across unrelated institutions is unimaginably hard. ObamaCare's software has to communicate-accurately-across a mind-boggling array of institutions: HHS, the IRS, Medicare, the state-run exchanges, and a whole galaxy of private insurers' and employers' software systems.
Recalling Rep. Thomas's 1999 remark about Medicare setting prices for 3,000 counties, there is already mispricing of ObamaCare's insurance policies inside the exchanges set up in the states.
The odds of ObamaCare's eventual self-collapse look stronger every day. After that happens, then what? Try truly universal health insurance? Not bloody likely if the aghast U.S. public has any say.
Enacted with zero Republican votes, ObamaCare is the solely owned creation of the Democrats' belief in their own limitless powers to fashion goodness out of legislated entitlements. Sometimes social experiments go wrong. In the end, the only one who supported Frankenstein was Dr. Frankenstein. The Democrats in 2014 should by all means be asked relentlessly to defend their monster.
Henninger isn't the only one who has been pushing the idea that Obamacare's numerous problems will be the death of it. However, I am not as sanguine about the probabilty that Democrats won't turn around and advocate a single payer system - especially if they score big in the 2014 elections.
Despite current signs pointing to big gains for Republicans in 2014, the upcoming fiscal and debt debates could turn that around in a hurry. Also, as bad as Obamacare might be, it probably won't be the immediate catastrophe being predicted by many Republicans. Instead, a slow motion train wreck is a more likely scenario. It's not clear just how bad things can get before the 2014 election, but since so much of the bad news has been delayed until after the election, it is possible that the negative political impact of Obamacare will be somewhat muted.
One thing Henninger is right about; only the American people can stop it by voting out of office those who support it and voting in those who oppose it. That, and refusing to participate in the exchanges would doom Obamacare regardless of what President Obama wanted.
No doubt we will read glowing accounts in the media of happy Americans getting subsidized insurance on the exchanges and precious little about the confusion and software glitches that will make most people's lives miserable. But most will base their opinion on their personal experiences - which will determine the fate of Obamacare going down the road.