Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays, and author of a new book, "Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate." A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries.
(CNN) -- The biggest near-term unintended consequence of the Obama Democrats' decision to destroy the Senate filibuster will be the repeal of Obamacare.
Under the old Senate rules, a minority could use the filibuster to block undesired change.
It required 60 votes to run over a determined minority.
Even if the Republicans have a good outcome in 2014 and 2016, there is a pretty good chance they will not win the 15 seats (one third of their current total membership) that would have been required to make major changes under the old Senate rules. Winning even 14 seats in the next two elections would have left them one short of a filibuster proof majority (and that assumes all the Republicans would agree on repeal).
Now, with one clever move, the Obama Democrats have lowered the bar from 60 votes to 51.
The odds of gaining six seats from the current 45 are dramatically better than trying to pick up 15 seats.
For my entire career in the House, including when I was speaker, we were told again and again of the things we couldn't pass because they wouldn't get through a Senate filibuster. Now that inhibition is gone.
The Democrats will try to say they have only eliminated the filibuster for certain cases involving presidential appointees, not legislation. But what they have really eliminated is a longstanding principle of the Senate.
With a simple majority, Republicans could soon push through dramatic changes like the replacement of Obamacare because a liberal minority would have no tools to stop it.
In 2016, every Republican candidate for House, Senate, and president will be asked if he or she is committed to replacing Obamacare in the first 100 days. Virtually all of them will pledge to do so.
The opportunity for a breakout from the entire obsolete bureaucratic structure is now enormous. This makes the 2014 and 2016 elections among the highest stakes of any in recent memory.
When Obamacare disappears with a simple majority vote in the Senate, thank President Obama and Senator Reid for the new Senate rules which made it possible. It all started this week. It will end around March 1, 2017. The die has been cast.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Newt Gingrich.