[A]s the Obamacare rollout gets worse with each passing day, Speaker John Boehner and his House GOP colleagues are being handed political gold — and they think they’ve figured out a way to avoid screwing it up.Politico reports that the GOP plan "is working beautifully." Not only that, says Politico, but "political fallout from the shutdown has all but disappeared" while Boehner has simultaneously killed immigration reform.
The Obamacare playbook, as described by several high-level House GOP aides and lawmakers, includes lots of committee oversight, some targeted legislation and lots of rhetoric. But there will be no more votes to defund or repeal Obamacare — the issue that led to the disastrous 16-day government shutdown — the GOP leadership says. At some point, top Republicans say, there might be a vote to delay the law for a year. [...]
Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) neatly encapsulated the party’s emerging strategy: “We should be just like a doctor and do no harm.”
“Obamacare is the gift that keeps on giving,” a senior House aide said on condition of anonymity. “We just need to keep out of the way.”
Now, to be fair to Politico, even they acknowledge the obvious: Republicans could easily be overconfident. For example:
Of course, it’s early in the overhaul’s life span, and the political fortunes of both Democrats and the GOP can change rapidly. The Obamacare website could be repaired, allowing tens of thousands of Americans to begin signing up. Obama can come up with some tweak that solves all of these issues. And Republicans can end up on the losing side again in January, when they have to vote to keep the government open, or in the spring, when they need to raise the debt ceiling.But even that doesn't go far enough. Republicans have bet everything on being the anti-Obamacare party. That's why the shut the government down, and they are explicitly rooting for its failure now. But there's a huge difference between a rocky rollout and the failure of Obamacare. One year from now, if Obamacare hasn't given more people access to quality, affordable health insurance than have it today, then Republicans will be able to say that it's failed.
But if Obamacare succeeds in its mission—giving additional security to people who already have insurance, and covering people who don't already have insurance with new options that they can afford—then it'll be Republicans in trouble, because at that point, calling for the repeal of Obamacare will sound like calling for the repeal of Medicare or Medicaid.
It's not surprising that Republicans are giddy today. After all, even after the polls closed in 2012, they still thought Romney was on the cusp of victory. The fact that the headlines aren't great for Obamacare right now might make them think they've found political gold, but what they've really found is a political sugar high. And as long as the Obama administration is able to get the implementation of Obamacare back on track, the sugar high will quickly fade.