Obamacare is Vulnerable

The political scientists Eric Patashnik and Julian Zelizer identify various myths shaping how policy elites think about the future of Obamacare. The overall takeaway, for me at least, is that Obamacare opponents have a real opportunity to either jiu-jitsu the law (as Avik Roy and Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman have suggested) or repeal-and-replace it, as: (1) programs can be killed or they can fade away, particularly in their first few years; (2) programs create political constituencies when their effects are visible, but Obamacare goes to great pains to conceal its benefits (and costs); (3) it’s not just politicians but medical providers and insurers that will determine the fate of the law; and (4) conflict over new programs can last for decades — i.e., becoming an old program doesn’t necessarily mean becoming uncontroversial.

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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