Second, Democrats have muddied their central political appeal of siding with the middle class. Some in that large, elastic category will come out ahead. Others will see their premiums dramatically increase without qualifying for subsidies. One self-employed pregnant woman who has recently lost coverage is quoted in the Los Angeles Times: "It doesn't seem right to make the middle class pay so much more in order to give health insurance to everybody else." Democrats will be forced to answer: It depends on what you mean by middle class.
Third, these challenges are beginning to divide the Democratic coalition. Many unions, already unhappy about Obamacare fees on group plans, are not rallying to defend the law. And many Democratic politicians will be tempted to distance themselves from Obamacare as dysfunction extends from weeks to months. This face plant, after all, took place on the first hurdle. It is far from clear whether the exchange risk pools will be large enough and diverse enough a year from now to work properly.
These last few weeks offer some hard lessons for Democrats: Those who pass a partisan health law, own it. And those who believe in government are not necessarily capable of running one.
Michael Gerson's email address is email@example.com.
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