Darren Samuelsohn has a fascinating piece of alt-history up at Politico, arguing that congressional Republicans would have backed a broad range of big government initiatives if not for the challenged rollout of the Affordable Care Act:

Lawmakers are reluctant to rely on the federal government to get anything done — a guilt-by-association consequence of Obamacare’s botched rollout. Republicans have called it an indictment of more than a website, but of Big Government itself.

Samuelsohn goes on to suggest that the current failures of ACA are substantially hurting the potential for passage of NIH funding, education initiatives, immigration reform, and climate change legislation.

The idea that such legislation would be passing through this Congress if only the ACA rollout had gone more smoothly is, needless to say, hogwash. Congressional Republicans have no interest in handing President Obama victories on his legislative agenda, not because they’ve suddenly come to doubt Obama’s resolve or the capabilities of the federal government, but because they’re lifelong opponents of most of these agenda items and they got elected for those very stances.

To be fair, Samuelsohn does quote some Democrats saying that Republicans were going to oppose these initiatives anyway, but this really isn’t a he said/she said story. Democrats were never going to have an easy time passing immigration reform, cap & trade, or a carbon tax (!?!) in such a polarized environment, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that this is all due to the ACA. As Richard Skinner capably summed up on Twitter:

Writing “divided government + polarized parties = not much going to get done” gets boring after awhile. But it’s true!

[Cross-posted at The Mischiefs of Faction]

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Seth Masket is an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver.