Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

August 1, 2013

Are Republicans fooling themselves about Obamacare?

(Continued)

“Neither Democrats nor Republicans liked to emphasize how much the Affordable Care Act debate was about redistribution rather than health care as such, but there’s a lot of money here,” wrote Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, who attended the briefing. “The law is structured to be financially beneficial to a large majority of people, and the infrastructure is in place to make that clear to a critical mass of them.”

Truth be told, many Republicans did note that redistribution is at the heart of Obamacare. But the fact is, the redistributing will begin Jan. 1. And whatever else goes wrong with Obamacare, look for the White House to apply whatever fixes it must to make sure the money keeps flowing.

“The last few months have shown us that the administration will do whatever it needs to do — whether it is in the law or not, within its formal powers or beyond them — to prop up collapsing elements and avoid political disasters in the near term,” said Yuval Levin, a former Bush administration staffer and one of Obamacare’s most perceptive critics, in an email exchange. “That often means pure ad hoc governing where they just do whatever in order to avoid allowing the system’s worst problems and failings to become apparent in the near term.”

None of this is to say Obamacare won’t face huge problems. The most obvious is that it will make things worse for more people than it helps. If that disparity is huge -- that is, if on one side there are many millions of people paying more for coverage than they did previously, losing coverage they were satisfied with, and suffering through great uncertainty, while on the other side there are far fewer people receiving direct government subsidies -- if that happens, then the political fight over Obamacare will intensify rather than fade. But even then, the subsidies are unlikely to go away.

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