Just so we’re on the same page, “Obamacare” is tax credits to pay for health insurance.

When the Republicans say “we’ll destroy the government if you don’t defund Obamacare!” they’re saying “if you don’t raise taxes by tens of billions of dollars, we’ll destroy the government!”

Sure, there’s some Medicaid spending in there, but around 2/3 of the cost next year will be tax breaks.

On top of that, Obamacare isn’t part of the budget. Those tax breaks will happen regardless of congressional appropriations. To prevent those tax breaks from going into effect, congress would have to pass a brand new law and have the president sign it.

That’s the same as repealing Obamacare. Not only is that not going to happen, but the House has already voted on this 40 times.

* * *

Obamacare presents two insoluble problems for the GOP. The first is reification1. Reification is the logical fallacy of:

  • taking a Group of things
  • giving the Group a Name
  • treating the Name as a separate thing from the Group.

At that point, all logical statements about the reified thing will be gibberish.

Republicans have reified Obamacare to the extent that their voters have a pavlovian response to it. The Thing Called “Obamacare” is to be hated, and that hatred supercedes their traditional ideological policy preferences.

The second problem is brand loyalty. Conservative donors trust “Americans for Prosperity” and “the Heritage Foundation” more than they trust “the Republican Party”, which isn’t inherently bad2.

The problem is that the right-wing groups are run by hustlers and con artists. FreedomWorks doesn’t care about setting policy; their primary goal is to raise money for FreedomWorks, and their secondary goal is to extort money from FreedomWorks.

* * *

“Defunding Obamacare” is the perfect storm. Tea Party groups are raising so much money promising to “defund Obamacare” that they can’t stop. Republicans, who know that the “defund Obamacare” campaign is as quixotic as the “repeal Obamacare” campaign, are incapable of keeping donors from funding the Tea Party.

This is all perfectly fine for the majority party on Earth 2, because “Obamacare” remains largely hypothetical. Only a third of the uninsured think they’ll even benefit.

Why am I so certain this is going to be a 2014 slam dunk? The individual Mandate.

* * *

The only thing that people really grasp about Obamacare is that you’ll have to have insurance3.

The only things that we need people to grasp about Obamacare is that they’ll have to have health insurance, and that www.healthcare.gov is where they can get their insurance.

When they go there, most uninsured people will see that they can get free health insurance4. They won’t grok the subsidies or how the Exchange works, but that’s fine! They’ll just know:

  • Obamacare gives me free insurance
  • Republicans want to repeal Obamacare
  • If Republicans win elections, I will lose my free insurance

We’re talking about 15% of Ohioans. Let’s say that only 1 in 5 uninsured people who use the exchange have that thought process. That means that in every election, Democratic turnout will be 3% higher.

Any Democratic candidate will able to say “Obamacare is working, and I want to make it work even better”. Because of reification and brand loyalty, it will be a generation before a Republican can do the same.


1 And everybody said my philosophy degree would never be useful.

2 I trust the Center for Economic Policy Research more than I trust, say, Steny Hoyer.

3 This will be like rain on Mitch McConnell’s wedding day.

The reason everybody knows about the individual mandate is that McConnell smartly seized upon it as the least popular aspect of the law. Indeed, every other aspect is pretty popular!

So, with Republicans talking about the individual mandate in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 and with Democrats only being able to talk about aspects upon their implementation, everybody has heard at some point that they’ll need to get insurance next year.

4 This is quite a claim! With 2 weeks until the exchange opens, I’m not even going to try to do the math. Here’s how this works for Bronze plans:

  • Uninsured people are largely 1) older than average or 2) lower-income than average
  • The older you are, the larger your subsidy
  • The lower your income, the larger your subsidy

As I said earlier, Ohio could do a better job of spacing out the Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans. Since 85% of Ohio’s uninsured population earns less than 250% of poverty, and people under 250% of poverty will get a subsidy larger than the CareSource premium, I’m pretty confident that most uninsured Ohioans will see a Bronze plan that’s free for them.

Again, this is the currently uninsured. Obviously lots of people earn more than $38,000, but most of them get insurance from their job.