The battle over Obamacare is clearly worth fighting. The good news is that Republicans will have a key ally in the coming months -- Obamacare itself. Americans may not be philosophically opposed to government-centric healthcare, but they have been known to punish any party that is perceived as threatening something they value. Arguably, Republicans were rewarded with control of Congress in 1994 because Hillarycare was seen as a danger to the employer-provided insurance with which most Americans were pleased.
As Obamacare rolls out -- maddening those who attempt to enroll on exchanges with exasperating errors, robbing many spouses of coverage, increasing premiums and deductibles, causing employers to shift personnel to part-time status, violating the privacy of enrollees, and flagrantly violating the promises made on its behalf -- voters will be open, to say the least, to alternatives.
Republicans cannot succeed by suggesting 1) that Obamacare is the worst policy innovation in two generations, and that 2) once implemented, voters will clasp it to their bosoms and never let go. Instead, they must let Obamacare do the talking and then be ready with alternatives.
Obamacare was aimed at solving the problem of the uninsured, which, even under the most optimistic assumptions, it will not do. As is typical of Democratic solutions, it imposes a nationwide mandate on everyone to solve a discrete problem of a few. The issue of the uninsured is arguably not the most burning problem (many already have access to other government programs, for example). The problem of pre-existing conditions, by contrast, is genuine. James C. Capretta and Tom Miller, writing in National Affairs, have outlined a plan involving subsidized high-risk pools to cover those with pre-existing conditions. Such smaller-scale reforms that address real problems, rather than government-aggrandizing massive bureaucratic mazes, should be the Republican way. Once schooled by Obamacare, the public may be ready to listen.