It’s pretty clear that the implementation of Obamacare will set the tone for how Americans think about government for years to come. There are two large questions to be settled, which you might call the questions of competence and coercion.
The first is whether the government is competent enough to manage large programs. Can the administration get the website to work, set rules for the right insurance products or impose efficiency measures to restrain costs?
These are still open questions. Democrats see the early messiness as the temporary teething pains inevitable to a new large enterprise. Republicans see them as the first stages in the unraveling of an unworkable Rube Goldberg machine. But the fact is that we can’t yet know who is right. Over the next few years, the implementation will either go more smoothly and build faith in federal competence or go as it has been and destroy it.