[U]nlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn. A contrite-sounding Mr. Obama repeatedly blamed himself on Thursday for the failed health care rollout, which he acknowledged had thrust difficult burdens on his political allies and hurt Americans’ trust in him.
The blame game is going on in full earnest now. Even as Obama publicly takes his licks over his failed “like it, keep it” promises, he and his supporters are taking every chance they can to steer public anger over the law toward third parties. Obama’s “fix” allows them to say cancellations and rate shocks are insurers’ fault, and they never tire of claiming that without GOP obstruction this would all have worked out much better.Eventually the left will craft a counterfactual narrative around this claim: from the very beginning the ACA designed to be palatable to the right—no public option, definitely no single-payer, and with provisions lifted right out of a Heritage Foundation plan—and then the GOP worked overtime to sabotage even this compromise bill. Without the GOP’s intransigence we could have had a better law in the first place, and the whole implementation would have gone a lot smoother.Expect to hear this ad nauseam from those itching for a pivot to a single payer system. We at VM guess that most people beyond the left’s most loyal demographics won’t buy this. One reason they won’t is a warning to both parties. The ACA was never very popular, and it has become less popular over time. Its initial limited popularity combined with the outcry over the cancellations suggests that the public is both desperate for health care reform and very resistant to the disruptions that most any reform will bring. Would-be reformers on both sides will have to grapple with this contradiction in the coming months and years.