The bet that Trump and conservative Republicans are making is that voters—specifically middle-class consumers on the individual market exchanges facing, in many cases, ridiculous premium increases in 2018—will resort to the norm of the past few years: blaming Obamacare, and Democrats, for every exorbitant medical bill they face. This fits into the GOP’s continuing pursuit of repeal: We tried to fix the system, Democrats wouldn’t help us, and now you’re stuck with the same old Obamacare crap. Central to this political strategy is the obscure art form known as “lying,” in which it’s never mentioned that the administration and allies in the congressional majority have taken direct steps to sabotage Obamacare and create this political argument for themselves…

You will know if Democrats have successfully convinced the public that Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act is to blame for high premiums when congressional Republicans suddenly scramble to inject money into it. Appropriating the cost-sharing reduction payments will no longer be something congressional Democrats have to grind for in spending negotiations; vulnerable Republicans will insist on them, too. The Senate negotiations on a short-term market stabilization bill between Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander will reach a deal and move through Congress. Republican leaders might act as though they’re taking these steps reluctantly, but they’ll be doing it to protect their majorities. Democrats’ effort to stick the blame on Republicans in these next few months isn’t the usual gamesmanship—it’s the entire game. If they succeed, Obamacare will survive; if they fail, the purposeful unraveling will continue until there’s little left.