You can tell that progressives believe that they have won the Obamacare repeal fight because of one simple thing: they are already talking about what they consider to be the next "inevitable" step in the long march toward socialized medicine.
Over and over again, progressives have proven that they cannot be trusted if they claim any sort of limited objective. In progressive language, "We obviously don't want to do X, we just want reasonable restrictions on Y," is always code for "the second you give us Y, we'll be pushing for X."
We've seen it recently in many different arenas. Progressives claimed that they just wanted gay marriage to be legal, but before the ink was even dry on the Obergefell decision, they were already pushing to criminalize refusal to participate in a same sex wedding.
We've seen it throughout history. Every step that the welfare state advances is used as an excuse to push for progressives' ultimate goal, the guaranteed annual income (courtesy of the taxpayers, of course).
Over and over again, progressives have proved that they will never be satisfied with the status quo, no matter what the status quo is. There is nothing you can give them as part of a compromise that will cause them to stop asking for more.
Now, we are seeing this exact same drama unfold in the health care arena.
Progressives scratched and clawed to pass Obamacare. They promised the American people that it would be the solution to all the problems in the health care industry. They said it would get people covered. They threatened and cajoled reluctant members of their own party, many of whom lost election as a result of their Obamacare vote.
However, thanks to the fact that the implementation of the law was phased in over several years, they didn't feel comfortable saying what they really wanted to do to the American health care system this entire time. They knew that if they lost the White House in 2012, the Republican president might well blow it up. They knew if they ran on expanding an unpopular law in 2016, it might cost them the White House. And when Trump pulled off his surprise victory and carried a Republican majority with him to the Senate, progressives laid low with their health care plans.
But the Republicans' failure to pass an Obamacare repeal, even at the apex of their political power, has caused the Democrats to realize that Obamacare is safe. And about five minutes after that realization set in, progressives let the mask slip, and have openly embraced their healthcare policy goal all along: the nationalization of the entire health care industry.
Consider how far the progressives' rhetoric has come. Back in 2009, progressives could not even include a public option in their health care bill, even though they held the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Less than a decade ago, a government-run health care option was too politically toxic for even open progressives to ram through Congress.
Now, 17 Democrats have co-sponsored socialist Bernie Sanders' single-payer health care bill. Given that all the likely 2020 Democratic frontrunners — including Sanders, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Liz Warren — are among the bill's cosponsors, it seems highly likely that the Democratic nominee will be an open advocate for nationalized health care.
Democrats would not be positioning themselves on this side of the issue so early unless they were reasonably sure they could win. And even if they lose in 2020, don't expect them to ever go back and forsake this goal. They already have the next best thing to single payer, and Republicans have proven that they can't get rid of it.
Progressives have taken their inch, and they won't rest until they get the whole mile next.