Decision time is fast approaching. No, I don’t mean the election in November, or what to nosh on while watching USC’s first
game victory of the season on September 1st, though certainly these two choices are self evidently very important. The big decision is this month. It will be made by the Supreme Court of the United States. I’m talking Obamacare. Will it get a yes? A no? A dash of yes, and a dollop of no?
After the hearing in March conventional wisdom insists the court will strike down the mandate…at least. Possibly even the entire law. However, whenever convention wisdom coalesces I become instinctively wary. When it comes to conventional wisdom I am suspicious by nature. The talking heads are too often wrong. Dead wrong.
My guess is a 5-4 decision one way or the other. Justice Kennedy holds the trump card. He seemed very skeptical of the mandate during the oral arguments. Seemed. He could have been bluffing too.
My argument for a while has been that politically Obama needs his signature “achievement” to go down and go down hard. As in the entire law is ritually slaughtered by the court. Preferably on its steps. If only the mandate goes and the stuff people like stays, then Obama must run on his “achievement”. But without the mandate the bill collapses under its own weight. He knows it. Everyone knows it. The thing becomes unworkable. The insurance cabal will heave a blizzard of money Romney’s way to stave off collapse.
Conversely, if the entire law is deep sixed Obama is a free man. Sure, it will be ugly in the first few news cycles. Headlines will scream: FAIL! OBAMA CLOCKED BY COURT! PRESIDENT’S FIRST YEAR WASTED! The GOP won’t be able to contain its glee and, as we all know, too much GOP glee is a turnoff. A big one. Even the nice ones morph into Rick Scott. Therein lies the key for Barry O.
People like bits and pieces of the law. People want something done about healthcare and, contrary to GOP mythology, they want the government to do it. If, by September, when the hooting and hollering has faded, Obama can respectfully nod to the Supreme Court’s final say in our system. Then trash the GOP hammer and tongs, focusing on the elements of the law people actually liked. Please note that Axelrod and Co are already setting up this meme. The GOP is only for the rich, only for the corporations. These GOP thugs took away your child’s right to be on your insurance plan until he/she was 26! And don’t get me started about pre-existing conditions! Only me, and the Democrats, and me! can protect you!
Actually, from a purely political standpoint it’s a pretty good argument.
If the court upholds the entire law, Obama’s in trouble. Ignore the gloating he and Democrats will do in the immediate aftermath. Wait for the Fall. The heavy burden of Obamacare will dog this President without mercy. There is no evidence anywhere, from Scott Brown’s win to the Tea Party erupting on to the scene, that this law, with the mandate at its core, has caused anything but fury and disgust among the majority. I said here many months ago that the mandate was political poison. It was. It is. If the court upholds the entire law Romney will have Christmas in July.
It’s a strange, strained moment. The “winner” may well end up being the loser.
What do you think? Etch-a-sketch your bias away and just predict: