Byron York

For example, in a recent editorial about fiscal cliff negotiations, The Washington Post noted that the nation's "underlying fiscal problem is that federal expenditures are slated to rise faster than economic growth," and that "the long-term drivers" of those federal expenditures are "Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and subsidies for the health-care exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act." Obamacare will take its place as a contributor to future deficits.

Obamacare has never been popular. Indeed, it has been underwater in terms of public approval from the moment it began to take legislative shape in 2009. In last month's exit polls, 49 percent said all or part of Obamacare should be repealed, while 44 percent said it should be left as is or expanded.

"There hasn't been any trend," says pollster Scott Rasmussen. "From the beginning, well before the law was passed, public opinion has been remarkably stable and modestly negative. ... All of that has been based upon theory and politics. Most Americans have not yet felt any impact from the law."

If Obamacare were popular, there's no doubt more governors would choose to have their states set up insurance exchanges, as the law envisioned. Instead, nearly two dozen Republican governors have refused, which will force the federal government to build the exchanges itself.

The governors are saying no to state-run exchanges for three reasons. One, they believe it will cost their states too much money. Two, they believe the federal government will exercise ultimate control over everything, despite federal reassurances that states will play a significant role. And three, many believe Obamacare implementation will be a disaster.

Some who watch Obamacare closely see something similar. "The administration is well behind schedule," says James Capretta of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center. "It's going to be a train wreck in a lot of places."

Capretta sees the administration trying to paper over some of the problems by rushing billions of dollars in subsidies out the door. That way they will argue Obamacare is doing much good, whatever its flaws.

But it's possible no amount of money will be enough to hide those flaws -- once Obamacare becomes a reality in Americans' lives.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner