Washington and the press tend to focus on the moment and act as if the moment will continue unchanged, forever.
The Republican Party at a nadir in the polls. Conservative House and Senate lawmakers sent to Washington to change Washington supposedly look like fools for . . . trying to change Washington. The Washington establishment is proclaiming a “victory” for President Obama in the shutdown battle.
But the judgement that Obama has “won” assumes that the game is over. And the game is not over.
I wrote Wednesday that in fact the Tea Party was victorious in this battle, in part because its leaders in Congress had succeeded in making a stand against Obamacare and making it clear that conservatives oppose a vast entitlement that will fail.
Therefore, it only stands to reason that a desperate attempt to stop Obamacare will begin to look like a pretty good idea to the public should the program become the catastrophe conservatives are predicting.
The problem for the “victorious” Obama is that the evidence is already coming in that conservatives stood on the correct side of history.
That the Obama website doesn’t work is not just a technical problem. It showcases the impossibility of putting the government in charge of what is an imperfect, but for most people a relatively decently working, health care system. It’s only the beginning of the problems we will see as Uncle Sam tries to regulate and deliver your health care.
There are other ways to help the uninsured without putting the feds in charge of everything. We responded to a bad wound with a body cast. And Americans are about to begin understanding that.
In the short term, this is about to get personal. Because of the way the law works, the uninsured will have until February 15, 2014 to be all signed up for a plan or face a fine from the federal government.
But there is a real possibility that the system will not be fixed in time to get everyone insurance. Even if fixed, a certain percentage of people, having tried and failed a few times, will just give up. And then they’ll get their notice from the IRS that they must personally pay for the government’s incompetence.
What’s more, Obamacare needs about 7 million people to sign up – including 2.7 million health young adults – in order to put enough cash into the system to fund the cost of insuring older and sicker beneficiaries. With every passing day, the likelihood of that decreases.
This is not the end, but the beginning of a very serious game. The very credibility of Obama and the Democrats’ big government philosophy is at stake. If Obamacare fails, the nation may begin to frown on government in a way it hasn’t since the late 1970s, the era that ushered in Ronald Reagan.
With Obamacare, Democrats may finally have gone too far. It’s dissolution would mark Obama and his ideology as a failure.
And the “extreme” tactics of House and Senate conservatives will be vindicated.