(Politico Magazine) – When it comes to Obamacare and the 2014 midterms, the GOP appears to have a fairly simple strategy: Keep the target on the other guys. After all, the president’s health law is persistently unpopular, leading many Republicans to conclude that there’s more risk than reward in telling voters what they’d do differently. The “prevent defense” will probably work this time, but it won’t work forever.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, in 2016 there will be 34 million U.S. residents on Obamacare-sponsored health insurance: 22 million on the law’s health insurance exchanges, and 12 million enrolled in its expansion of Medicaid. It’s certainly possible that the CBO’s estimates are too high. And not all of those 34 million people will have been previously uninsured. But the 2016 election is shaping up ominously for the GOP.
Imagine this scenario: The Republican presidential contenders spend 2015 and 2016 competing with each other to see who can denounce Obamacare—and pledge to repeal it—in the most full-throated terms. If you thought Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” comment was bad in 2012, wait until Hillary runs ads aimed at the tens of millions of voters whose health coverage would be disrupted by repeal.
Republicans aren’t stupid. They know that repealing Obamacare will be a tough political sell outside the conservative base. But they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.