If we learned one thing from Ted Cruz’s government shutdown temper tantrum, it is that the Affordable Care Act is legislatively safe for the next three years President Obama is in office. Republicans really tried everything possible to get rid of it and failed. It is now firmly the status quo.
Its fate will no longer be decided by politics but by practicality. If the administration gets the law to work for three years it will be impossible to uproot. If it is a continuous train wreck for years there will be no stopping efforts to change it. It all comes down it whether or not it eventually works, and PR spin will not change that. Years of messaging have not moved popular opinion about the law at all; the only thing that will is its real life impact.
That means there is no reason for progressive to still be defending the Affordable Care Act. I at least understood why some progressives and liberals kept defending the law up until the 2012 election. At that time there was still the chance that Republicans could win and replace it with something worse, but that is no longer a real risk. The law is now the status quo. Progressives should not be wasting their time and destroying their legitimacy defend a clearly insufficient status quo.
The Affordable Care Act’s problems are almost all caused by things progressives should have hated about the law: private insurance exchanges, insufficient subsidies, the lack of a federal Medicaid program, not enough limits on price gouging, and the need to rely on expensive private contractors.
This is a perfect opportunity to show why the progressive vision for health care reform is the best thing for the country by pointing out how both the Republican and the corporatist New-Democratic plans are clearly inferior.