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Topics: Obamacare

This bill tolls for thee, Democrats

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Noemie Emery,Columnists,Obamacare,Senate,President,House of Representatives,House Minority Leader,Health and Human Services,Health Care,Analysis

Forget demographics. Forget the re-branding. Forget the poll matchups, most of them involving newcomers who are still largely unknown to the general public.

Nothing will influence 2014 (and 2016) nearly as much as the implosion of Obamacare, which so far has been messy and will become even worse.

Demographic allegiances aren't always stable, parties cannot re-brand themselves in a vacuum, and the current contenders will be judged, not for who they appear to be today but on who they become in the next three years.

Democrats may seem to have a strong coalition, but Republicans had one, too, in 2005, before events intruded. In Forbes, Avik Roy notes that the White House has missed 41 of 82 deadlines in the bill's first three years of existence, while labor leaders say the bill is destroying full-time employment.

Last week, Obama announced the umpteenth delay in implementation; exempted congressional staffers from Obamacare costs; and said he will spend an additional $67 million to "educate" the public on the blessings to come with the law that survived the Supreme Court and the 2012 election (in part because it was planned NOT to kick in before then).

It may not survive its clash with reality, however, which was always its enemy and which seems to be closing in fast.

Democrats claim these "glitches" mirror those faced by Medicare and Social Security soon after their birth, but two key things are different: Medicare and Social Security had wide and bi-partisan backing, and they didn't have a Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

Though Brown failed to stop the bill's passage, he stopped it from being passed in a form in which its survival was possible. With Brown in the Senate, a conference committee wasn't an option, so the House had to pass the Senate bill as it was.

"What landed on the president's desk was incomplete and unfinished," said Jonathan Adler. "Not all of its parts fit together, complicating implementation and providing greater opportunities for litigation from those who thought the law goes too far."

What else Brown did was make Obama and Democratic congressional leaders force the bill through on a technical loophole that further inflamed the enraged opposition, which waged all-out war in the 2010 midterms, and turned record numbers of state houses red.

As a result, only 16 states are committed to running Obamacare exchanges, a critical fact that may ultimately doom the whole enterprise. If not enough people join the exchanges, the rickety house will collapse.

Democrats are pinning their hopes on Jan. 1, 2014, when subsidy checks start going out to Obamacare recipients, as they believe that once an entitlement goes into practice, it never can be dialed back.

But what if the pain suffered by those hurt by the bill — those whose premiums soar, whose doctors and jobs disappear, and whose coverage suffers — outweighs the gain of those getting benefits, and these people make their voices heard?

Except for somewhat higher taxes, Medicare and Social Security never hurt anyone, and disrupted the lives of no actual voters. Obamacare does. The time has long passed when Obamacare could be called a success; what remains to be seen is the size and the scope of the chaos it brings; and what this will do to its party of origin.

No man is an island, and no island is detached enough to be immune from this wreckage, if only through the harm it has done the economy. Ask not for whom this bill tolls, all of you Democrats. This bill tolls for thee.

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Noemie Emery

Columnist
The Washington Examiner