Republicans need ObamaCare's exchanges to work

The rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been an utter and complete disaster, leading to a flowering of schadenfreude among Republicans who predicted Obamacare would be an utter and complete disaster. But the failure of the federal exchange Web site, and widespread confusion among consumers, isn’t the particular disaster Republicans had predicted. And it’s not a particularly auspicious one for Republican policy interests. …

Ryan isn’t pushing his health-care plan anymore. But his budget still reconfigures Medicare by employing Obamacare-style exchanges that would offer private insurance options. He restructures Medicaid and food stamps by turning them over to state experimentation. Older versions of Ryan’s budget privatized Social Security, similarly giving individuals much more control over their retirement accounts. Now Ryan is engaged in an ambitious effort to rethink the way the government fights poverty. …

There’s a lazy but popular analysis of U.S. politics that holds that liberals need the government to work while conservatives benefit when it fails. That notion woefully underestimates the real-world implications of conservative goals.