The U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionality of Obamacare
will have major implications and aftershocks in the law, but curiously, no
matter what the Court decides, the political consequences may be not be much
different whether or not the Obamacare legislation is completely upheld,
partially upheld or entirely struck down.
That is because this healthcare legislation is so unpopular in the nation, and so
fraught with economic problems, that the Obama administration is destined to
pay the same price for its enactment in any scenario.
A complete upholding of the law will do little to improve its popularity. In fact
public opinion, if the law is upheld, will most likely intensify in opposition, and
bring out in November those who are against it, particularly among independent
voters,. all seeking to vote for those who would repeal it
A partial upholding of the law, presumably striking down the mandate provision,
would alter the fundamental structure of the legislation, and depending on the
details and language of the Court decision, make the legislation mostly unworkable.
The incentive to abolish much of the remaining law would then be politically
strong, thus also bringing out voters in November to assure its total demise (and
a new approach to healthcare reform).
If Obamacare legislation is completely struck down, it would be a political
disaster for those Democrats who supported it, including the president and former
house speaker Nancy Pelosi and current senate majority leader Harry Reid.
Controlling the White House and both houses of Congress in 2009 when this
legislation was passed, it would mean their only truly major public policy
achievement had been an inherent failure. Given public opinion, and the
unfolding fiscal consequences of Obamacare (much higher debt and public costs),
there would be little persuasive argument to return them to office in 2013,
presumably to repeat their performance from 2009-2012.
There is considerable suspense about the Supreme Court decision. It will be
judicially very important, and much commentary will be made about it.
But there will probably little suspense about its political consequences, When
major and historic legislation is passed by a political party and signed into law
by a president, the proudly stated (and absurd) notion that there was no need
even to read its 2000 pages of details until AFTER it went into effect, doomed it
with the most important "supreme" court of all, the voters.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.