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Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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Chuck Todd, projectionist

The truth of American politics is immutable: The people ultimately get what they want.

This is not to say the American people are always wise or full of insight or alert to the inevitability of unintended consequences. It is simply to say that elections bend to the will of a critical mass of the voting public.

The Right Stuff brings this up today on the ostensible deadline of Obamacare’s first open-enrollment period over a provocative prediction by NBC political analyst Chuck Todd. As if the day weren’t already sufficiently fraught with claims and counter-claims regarding the success of President Obama’s Signature Domestic Achievement®, Todd this morning declared the Affordable Care Act “unrepealable.”

TRS thinks Todd doth project too much. He’s predicting what he favors, not what he can reasonably defend.

His reasons, boilerplate arguments for Obamacare’s ability to go all Doctor Octopus on the national psyche, are Ted Cruz’s worst nightmare. As Todd notes, through the exchanges, expansion of Medicaid in some states and the prolonged adolescence clause that allows tykes to linger on mom’s and dad’s policy until they’re 26, lots of Americans who weren’t covered before have insurance now – although “lots” is an indistinct number – and lots more will be added in the final two years of the Obama administration, assuming Republicans don’t surge to veto-proof majorities in the midterm elections, an outcome no one is predicting.

Suppose, Todd says, the Congressional Budget Office is right and enrollment through the exchanges surges to 22 million before Obama’s successor is sworn in.

“Bottom line: Repeal is more unlikely than it’s ever been before. How do you negate the health-care plans for these millions of Americans?”

Well. Even Todd acknowledges Obamacare remains stubbornly unpopular. In the most charitable poll in a while, the ACA’s unfavorable gap was an impressive minus-12, but a flintier sampling finds record revulsion. The day last week the White House announced the number of enrollees crested past 6 million (a perfectly unreliable number until we find out who’s managed to check out and who’s actually begun paying premiums), someone tweeted, “Want to know who Obamcare is really unpopular with? Begin with those 6 million.”

In short, by the end of 2016, Obamacare may have brought 22 million Americans under its umbrella, but if we can believe polling, anywhere from a half to two-thirds won’t have arrived because they blindly believed long-debunked sales pitches, but because they were herded there at the point of an IRS bayonet.

Coercion that inspires resentment rarely constitutes a winning long-term political strategy. And if early reports are accurate and premiums surge in 2015, candidates who run against one party’s attempt to assert command and control over two of Americans’ most personal concerns – their health and finances – should thrive.

Certainly, having an easily understood free-market alternative to boast about would be optimal, but come November 2016, when only a minority of a minority is happy to have Obamacare at their throats, the blessed unwinding Chuck Todd says can’t happen will be only an Inauguration Day away.