Republicans had quite the racket going—a very long, nearly successful con. For seven years, they convinced much of the country that every health care–related problem people faced could be directly attributed to Obamacare, a socialist plot enacted by Democratic votes and signed into law by nefarious Barack Obama. JIM NEWELLJim Newell is a Slate staff writer.If premiums or medical inflation were increasing at any rate, it was because of Obamacare. If you had to wait 20 minutes in the doctor’s office waiting room, it was because of Obamacare. The opioid crisis? Obamacare. If your child didn’t get a lollipop after her well visit?
All Obamacare.Republicans, in conditioning voters to direct all complaints to the Democratic Party, developed one of the most potent political tools in recent memory. The drawn-out, frequently ugly path of the Affordable Care Act’s passage helped the GOP take the House in 2010. The failure of its rollout helped the party capture the Senate in 2014. A sharp upward correction in premiums helped television’s Donald Trump become president of the United States. Obamacare had, and has, serious problems, though not ones that couldn’t and can’t be mended with the good-faith legislative maintenance it has been denied since enactment. Republicans opted, instead, to keep their fingerprints off the issue to maximize their political gains.