The biggest risk the Democrats take on the comprehensive approach to health care is that they will find it much harder to use the health insurance companies as the demon to unite their troops. They may try to continue to blame others for our health care mess, but now they own the system: it is theirs.
They may have thought the system was broken now, but the majority that disagrees will now blame the Democrats for any hike in cost and drop in service or quality.
Never has such a comprehensive change been undertaken on such a partisan vote. Social Security and Medicare had broad bipartisan support.
Every sharp hike in insurance premiums, every denial of a claim, and every delay in service will be blamed on this bill and the party that pressed it forward. When voters get letters from their doctors about retiring and they are unhappy with their new selection of doctors they will blame this bill.
Certainly they will try to continue to blame the insurance companies for trying to game the system, but the pressure will be on the party that voted for it. And voters’ ire will not be limited to health care.
If unemployment rises, companies will blame this health care bill. When a factory leaves town for overseas production they will blame this bill. In fact a rise in unemployment will be like a shot of adrenaline to the majority of the voters already hostile to this bill.
No matter whatever factors cause these problems they will blame this bill. No matter how inflated the supporters of this bill feel, the partisan divide will assure that the election will be over this bill. If the opposition takes back Congress there is little they can do to overturn it unless they can override Obama’s veto, and this is doubtful.
They may be able to keep this campaign tool alive for the November elections, but it may be more difficult to keep it hot until the 2012 presidential race. A lot can happen to replace it as a headline issue.
But until then health care belongs to them.