From health care reform to immigration, President Obama is counting on Washington's inertia to make changes that last.
Republican reaction to the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act was swift and outraged. Romney Press Secretary Andrea Saul tweeted that he'd raised more than $300,000 in the first hour after the verdict was announced. "The only way to save the country from ObamaCare's budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president," said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as Republicans launched a #FullRepeal hashtag on Twitter and announced another (and largely symbolic) House vote to repeal the ACA the week of July 9.
But with the Supreme Court having upheld the ACA, Republicans are now clearly fighting a rear-guard action against a law that is partially implemented and which seems likely to grow in popularity now that it has been ratified and turned into something people can look forward to taking advantage of over time. The Supreme Court decision forces Republicans to express their conservatism not through new program proposals but by standing athwart history yelling stop. Obama has created a set of facts on the ground, and the inertial power of Washington and massive complexity of the health-care field that made universal health-care coverage little more than a Democratic fantasy from 1948 through 2009 will now tip the balance of power in the direction the president has set. Republicans can rail about it all they like, but in Washington, it is hard to ever completely undo what has been done.