Wehner and Gerson also touch upon the damage done to the traditional Republican advantage in foreign and security policy by the "decidedly mixed legacy" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reviewing the party's performance with, take your pick, young people, women, the unmarried, and blacks is enough to make even the hardiest Republican reach for the hemlock.
Yet lurking just around the corner is the greatest potential threat to Democratic fortunes in decades -- the implementation of Obamacare. Obama managed in 2012 to escape responsibility for the slow-growth, high-unemployment, high-debt economy by blaming his predecessor (along with the Japanese tsunami, the European debt crisis and ATM machines). But he and his party cannot avoid ownership of Obamacare. They pitched that boomerang into the air in 2010, and it's just now reversing course and aiming right at their heads. Obamacare will be the most acute and direct experience most Americans have with Obama's policies. The start date was delayed until after the 2012 election. Now the bills are starting to accumulate.
Employers are already responding to the law's perverse incentives by failing to hire, decreasing the hours of existing employees so that they don't count as full-time to evade coverage mandates and revising expansion plans so that they don't cross the threshold of 50 employees, above which they must provide insurance or pay a fine. The CBO estimates that 7 million workers will lose their health coverage altogether. The IRS assumes that health insurance will cost the average family $20,000 by 2016.
Though Obama promised that health insurance rates would fall by $2,500 by the end of his first term, they've increased by an average of $3,000. The Wall Street Journal reports that 13 states will see further premium increases of between 65 and 100 percent. Because the law requires that employees' children be kept on until age 26, many plans are dropping spouses. The state exchanges aren't ready. Eighty-three percent of doctors are considering retiring due to Obamacare. Most analysts agree that, at the very least, wait times at doctors' offices will increase -- if you can get an appointment at all. Medicaid, bankrupt before, will be deeper in the hole. It's a mess.
And it's Obama's mess.