New Criticals

Does this mean that we will endure an endless array of government shutdowns, debt ceiling blackmail, and policy paralysis combined with new rounds of budget cuts mandated by the sequester that Obama and the Republicans agreed to earlier this year and which are slated to deepen each year through 2021? The answer, unfortunately, is yes with three big qualifications.

First, Obamacare will go forward. It has a revenue stream from dedicated taxes, much like Social Security, and so is largely immune to annual budget cuts under the sequester or to Republican efforts to cut it. Indeed, the only way Republicans could derail Obamacare is with their current tactics of threatening budgetary and economic chaos unless Obama agrees to end that program. As Obamacare is institutionalized, Americans will come to appreciate access to affordable health insurance and the guarantee that insurance companies can revoke coverage or that unemployment will leave them uninsured. This will shift the balance of public opinion in this country away from the Reaganite rejection of social programs and build a constituency for public control over and greater subsidies for health care. In the past, each new social program has created interest in and confidence about governmental provisions for other social needs. We already see the stirring of demand for Federally provided and subsidized child care, an issue that has been dormant since President Nixon vetoed a universal child care bill that passed Congress in 1971.