No matter how many GOP ads were cut, how much direct mail was distributed, or campaign Web sites were created pledging to eliminate Obamacare or attacking Democrats for supporting it, the election could not be a referendum on Obamacare, according to the left-wing blogosphere. But it was. Of all the president’s policies that were on the ballot, Obamacare was the most significant.
Obamacare was and still is unpopular. Repealing it was a major issue for nearly every victorious GOP candidate. Obamacare plainly was at the core of both arguments about Obama’s executive overreach and executive incompetence. Obamacare was a big motivator for legions of conservatives to turn out to vote.
And indeed, never has Obamacare faced more threats:
1) The Supreme Court could very well end the subsidies from the federal run exchanges (which may increase after more GOP governors and state legislatures has increased and the decide to end state exchanges).
2) The number of projected 2015 enrollees is well below expectations, raising the possibility of the so-called death spiral as only the sickest customers sign up. (Anyone think the GOP House and Senate won’t vote to repeal the so-called risk corridors, which the GOP likes to call “insurance subsidies”?)
3) There are likely to be enough votes to repeal and override the medical device tax, and possibly the employer mandate and Independent Payment Advisory Board. (Republicans who don’t want a giant immigration bill should understand the benefits of going step-by-step.)
4) And while Hillaryland spinners deny it, the election increased the chances of electing a GOP president (determined to repeal and replace Obamacare) in 2016, both because the electorate has soured on Obama and because the GOP has started to get some election mechanics right. With the huge gains in the Senate the GOP majority might also be able to withstand 2016, when incumbents from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois will all be on the ballot. If elections have consequences, it is possible to imagine a complete reversal of 2008 (i.e. electing a GOP president and GOP majorities in both houses)
In short, simply saying or writing that Obamacare wasn’t the top issue for the midterm elections doesn’t make it true, nor does it deprive Republicans of a mandate and incentive to get rid of as much of it as possible.
There is an important caveat to all of this: Republicans had better try to offer a reasonable Obamacare alternative. Otherwise Democrats will run in 2016 on “Republicans want to take your healthcare away.” And while they are at it, Republicans should pass legislation providing an automatic waiver to Indiana or any other state that wants to undertake Medicaid reform.