Unfortunately, I am not very good at prognosticating. My hopes tend to color my expectations and hence I make mistakes. Nevertheless, I believe in looking ahead. After all, behold what happened when the American people failed to do so and re-elected Barack Obama.
So what are some of the opportunities and pitfalls that lie before us? Let us begin with the obvious. Almost anyone who has paid attention expects Obamacare to keep falling apart. Once people begin utilizing the programs for which they signed up, they are apt to be in for some rude surprises.
Here then is one sad possibility. People will die! Many — perhaps millions — will be inconvenienced, but thousands of the gravely ill who can no longer see their accustomed doctors or be admitted to their customary hospitals will pay the ultimate price.
Likewise, instead of the “Affordable Care Act” improving health care by making medical services available to more Americans, larger numbers will lose their insurance and thus skip the preventive care that might keep them healthy.
These prospects should come as no surprise. Nor should anyone be astonished when our president denies them. This is a man who blames everyone else for his failures and so we are likely to see the insurance companies and Republicans lambasted for his mistakes.
Of course, Obama will also put a rosy face on whatever transpires. Indeed, if he needs to, he will invent numbers that make his programs sound good. By the same token, he will trot out a little old lady from Dubuque who has recently had a lifesaving operation to prove that all is well.
As I say, none of this should surprise. It is therefore up to the Republicans to take advantage of our president’s mendacity and hubris. He must — and almost surely will — be called out for his deceptions.
Still, Republicans must do more! Fortunately, Ted Cruz can be counted on to report on how he and his colleagues attempted to protect the public from the unfolding medical fiascoes, but were condemned for their efforts. If they are wise, his fellow conservatives will join in this strategy.
Together, however, they must attempt to do more! They must seek to repeal Obamacare. What, you say? This is impossible! The president will veto any legislation that so much as smells as if it might. Furthermore, without a two-thirds majority in the Senate, it will be sustained.
Yet will it? There was a time I too thought so, but then I had a realization. While there is no way the Republicans can obtain a veto-proof majority in the upper house this next year, I decided they do not need to. All they must manage is a landslide victory at the polls.
If the Republicans score a wipe-out at these, that is, if they gain substantially in both houses of Congress, that may be enough. Why? The answer lies in the motivation of the rump Democrats.
Remember, Democrats too have an instinct for self-preservation. Hence imagine this scenario. The Republicans become a majority in the Senate and acquire a massive majority in the House. Then they vote to repeal Obamacare and Obama keeps his word and vetoes the legislation.
The question is then: What will the remaining Democratic senators do? Will they support their lame duck president or will they calculate what might happen to them in the next voting cycle?
Assuming that the public is utterly distressed by the Affordable Care Act, will they conclude that these voters will favor the legislators who helped save it?
Somehow I doubt it. And if I am right, Republicans will not require a veto-proof majority to slay the Obamacare dragon. They may, in fact, be able to kill it.
Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.