As progressives, Kliff and Klein are required to conclude that the failure of big government was that it wasn’t big enough. But politically, they are probably dead on.
After all, the House GOP bill doesn’t even fully reverse O-care. Democrats (and some conservatives) see a GOP that is not ideologically committed to fundamental reform and even dumb enough to accept coverage stats — the only measure by which O-care succeeds — as a metric of GOP success.
Republicans are not entirely ditching O-care’s Medicaid expansion now. They would be no more likely to remove people from Medicare. Thus, the next Democratic strategy will center around a squeeze play that is simpler (indeed, one more in line with Obama’s claim to “build on what works”) and more difficult to reverse.
The GOP lost the war over O-care in part because they thought they were fighting the last war. Instead, polarization made a larger Dem majority more unified, even willing to accept a bill that bought off the interest groups who helped torpedo Hillarycare in the 1990s.