Byron York

Truth be told, many Republicans did note that redistribution is at the heart of Obamacare. But the fact is, the redistributing will begin Jan. 1. And whatever else goes wrong with Obamacare, look for the White House to apply whatever fixes it must to make sure the money keeps flowing.

"The last few months have shown us that the administration will do whatever it needs to do -- whether it is in the law or not, within its formal powers or beyond them -- to prop up collapsing elements and avoid political disasters in the near term," said Yuval Levin, a former Bush administration staffer and one of Obamacare's most perceptive critics, in an email exchange. "That often means pure ad hoc governing where they just do whatever they have to in order to avoid allowing the system's worst problems and failings to become apparent in the near term."

None of this is to say Obamacare won't face huge problems. The most obvious is that it will make things worse for more people than it helps. If that disparity is huge -- that is, if on one side there are many millions of people paying more for coverage than they did previously, losing coverage they were satisfied with, and suffering through great uncertainty, while on the other side there are far fewer people receiving direct government subsidies -- if that happens, then the political fight over Obamacare will intensify rather than fade. But even then, the subsidies are unlikely to go away.

Obamacare could face even bigger problems. The most serious is the so-called "death spiral," which could occur if too few young, healthy people sign up for coverage, dramatically raising the cost of covering everyone else.

But collapse of its own weight? The administration's insurance against that is the billions of dollars that will start flowing out of Washington Jan. 1. Once that happens, Republicans will likely stop talking about Obamacare's collapse and will instead start searching for ways to limit the harm done to millions of Americans.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner