He talks all the time about working with Republicans to modify the law in mutually agreeable ways—something that, in a less polarized political environment, would be totally normal. But he also knows Republicans have no interest in that kind of conversation—and that, politically, his posture makes a lot of sense.
Consider the state of public opinion. New polling from The Upshot and Kaiser Family Foundation is consistent with findings from previous surveys: Obamacare is not popular, even if its features are. But the Upshot/Kaiser poll also showed clearly that majorities of respondents oppose repealing the law outright, even in deeply conservative pockets of the South. That, too, is a familiar result. Meanwhile, previous surveys have suggested a majority of Americans simply want to move on to other issues. In the March Kaiser tracking poll, which is different from the survey Kaiser ran with Upshot, 53 percent agreed with the statement, “I’m tired of hearing about the debate over the health care law and I think the country should focus on other issues.” Just 42 percent said it was important to continue debating about the law.