Now, millions of middle-income Americans who probably felt safe from Obamacare's taxes are learning that they will pay for the program after all, in the form of higher premiums. Democrats constructed a system in which insurance companies would be forced to cover more people and then spread the cost around among those who had coverage all along, meaning many middle-income Americans will have to pay more for what they already had. Taxpayer-paid subsidies would go to lower-income Americans.
"The Affordable Care Act was not designed to reduce costs or, the law's name notwithstanding, to make health insurance coverage affordable for the vast majority of Americans," health care consultant Kip Piper told USA Today. "The law uses taxpayer dollars to lower costs for the low-income uninsured, but it also increases costs overall and shifts costs within the marketplace."
It was a clever strategy, allowing Democrats to sell their bill as a deficit cutter that wouldn't raise taxes on the vast majority of Americans. But the public had to find out eventually. "ACA taxes were imposed only on high-income people," the conservative writer David Frum noted recently in a series of tweets. "But large costs fall on the middle class, too, in the hidden, kludgy form of rate hikes. 'Obamacare is deficit neutral' wasn't technically a lie, but it was highly misleading. The middle class will pay and is paying."
Did most Americans understand that when Obamacare was passed and signed into law? Unlikely. But 2014 will be the year they find out.
And they are unlikely to be kind to the people who sold them that bill of goods. Democrats can comfort themselves by noting that the public disapproves of Republicans, too. But if Obamacare is a major political issue in November 2014 -- and indications are that it will be -- then Democrats will be the party that pays. And all their optimism of 2013 will seem like it was a long, long time ago.