April 15, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Meet the New Boss: Sebelius steps down, and ObamaCare supporters pretend to rejoice.

We observed in October that a new HHS nominee’s confirmation hearings would subject ObamaCare to political scrutiny, which Democrats were understandably anxious to avoid. That’s still true. “There are going to be some troublemakers who use the confirmation of the next person charged with overseeing Obamacare to raise hell, much as they did last fall, about the law,” writes Scott.

The way we’d have put it is that critics will use the hearings to raise questions about ObamaCare. To stigmatize opposition lawmakers as “troublemakers” raising “hell” is reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, where dissent was labeled “hooliganism,” a term that has come back into vogue in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein hails the success of the Five Year Plan: “Obamacare has won. And that’s why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign.” If Sebelius had quit during what Klein calls the “catastrophic launch”–see what we mean?–it would have been a sign of White House “panic” and “made it harder to save the law,” Klein argues.

It’s surely true that the immediate political risk of Sebelius’s resignation is considerably less now than it would have been then. In October it might have emboldened vulnerable Senate Democrats to abandon ObamaCare or at least press for serious legislative fixes. It’s late for that now. By maintaining party unity this long, Obama probably bought enough time to assure that Congress won’t threaten what is invariably called his “signature legislative achievement” this year.

Can blotting your copybook count as a “signature?”