I’ve argued before that if the health care bill passes, conservatives should shift their focus to getting it repealed. In National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin lay out reasons this could be feasible:
Repeal is commonly judged impossible. Conservatives have long worried, and liberals have hoped, that nationalized health insurance would permanently shift our politics to the left: Americans would grow accustomed to depending on the federal government for their health coverage, and would attribute the system’s failures to underfunding rather than structural flaws. But Democrats have designed this year’s legislation in a way that makes this scenario unlikely to unfold anytime soon.
They wanted the Congressional Budget Office to report that their plan would spend less than $1 trillion over the next ten years, so they rigged the bill to generate such a report. They achieved that goal in part by making tax increases and Medicare cuts go into effect several years before the bill’s benefits do. This sequence is likely to create years of political vulnerability for the new scheme. Voters will see mostly pain, not gain, from the legislation in its first four years – and four years is a very long time in politics. Conservative politicians will not have to threaten existing benefits in order to press for repeal, and they will be able to point to the bill as an example of the Democrats’ misplaced priorities while championing their own version of health-care reform.
There is a precedent for this: the Medicare catastrophic health insurance program was such an unpopular debacle that it was actually repealed, by a Democratic Congress no less. It wouldn’t be easy, in no small part because it would require Republicans to act with more discipline and gumption than usual, but it is certainly doable.