November 14, 2011

ObamaCare: Double-Edged Scalpel

Hatched by Dafydd

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opted to rule on at least some of the issues anent the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (a.k.a., ObamaCare), a rather sticky wicket arises. The decision will likely be announced in mid-2012, a few months before the election; most believe that any decision will affect Barack H. Obama's reelection chances... but the question is, which way?

The naïve analysis is that a decision overturning the individual mandate and perhaps other provisions (the expantion of Medicare, for example) would hurt Obama's chances at the voting booth because it makes him look feckless, foolish, and incompetent. But on the other hand, if the Supremes strike down ObamaCare in whole or in part, that might take some electoral pressure off of Obama, since ObamaCare would no longer loom over Americans' heads.

But on the next hand, many conservatives and independents might already believe absolutely that the Court is going to strike the law down. In this scenario, a decision upholding the law might drive more Americans to vote against Democrats, as that would become the only remaining path to undoing ObamaCare.

But on the fourth hand (in case you lost track), a decision more robustly overturning the law (6-3 or 7-2) would probably fuel the perception that the Obama administration is a lawless regime, thus mainstreaming the arguments of conservative activists. Contrariwise, a decision decisively upholding it would do the opposite, making conservatives who argue that it's unconstitutional seem more extremist and hysterical.

On yet another hand -- in politics, there's always one more hand! -- a 5-4 decision overturning could look nakedly political, since it would almost certainly split exactly along the lines of the president who appointed the justices: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito, appointed by George W. Bush, would join Justice Clarence Thomas (George H.W. Bush) and Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy (Ronald Reagan) in the majority vs. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan (Barack Obama) and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer (Bill Clinton).

(The fact that Justice Kagan was Obama's Soliciter General before being elevated to the Court, and that she and may or may not have actually helped prepare the defense of ObamaCare in the District Court hearings, would certainly not help to dispel the notion of politicization.)

In that case, Democrats -- already dancing on the knife-edge of sanity merely by dint of being Democrats -- might be so enraged that they riot across the country (à la the Rodney King police-beating verdict in 1992, which sparked the L.A. riots); such "unrest" (violence and vandalism) would probably help the GOP. But such a verdict would also motivate more Democrats to the polls on November 6th, which would hurt the GOP's chances.

On the sixth hand, a 5-4 decision upholding ObamaCare, which would result from Justice Kennedy crossing over to the dark side, would likely enrage Republicans, who would see Kennedy as yet another RINO seizing his best opportunity to stab his supposed allies in the back. In this case, it would be the Republicans who would rise up en masse to throw the bums out, probably more determinedly than they would if the verdict upholding the law was more lopsided, with "real Republicans" joining the Democratic appointees.

Sadly, I really cannot predict which of these scenarios would play out, and I've run out of hands in any event. The case surely has to be heard; we must have clarity about such an urgent question: Can the federales demand Americans buy a government approved but privately offered commercial product, such as health insurance?

If so, then the list of what Congress can regulate under the "commerce clause" of the Constitution is virtually limitless... meaning we no longer have even the veneer of limited government; we will have become a de-facto parliamentary democracy, just like those in Europe.

Ergo, the Court must rule; but how such clarity will play out on the battlefield of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections is the flip of a coin or the turn of a card, thus fraught with peril for both sides.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 14, 2011, at the time of 5:35 PM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

If I have to pick a hand to sit on, or raise, it would assume that the court will rule solidly against the individual mandate (6-3) because they are using Judge Vinson's ruling as precedent, go 5-4 to strike down the entire law (saying that, since Congress explicitly declined severability there is none). THEN Republicans will dance in the streets on the way to the polls to defeat Obama for his horrible economic policies.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 15, 2011 6:48 AM

The following hissed in response by: MikeR

Could be it's included in your first couple of hands... But I would have thought that an important consequence of the Supreme Court overturning ACA would be that it would totally break the hearts of the left.

They won a tremendous political victory in 2008. What, from their point of view, do they have to show for it? No Cap in Trade, no immigration reform. Are they proud of the finance "reform" bill? Or the Stimulus Bill? Or Guantanamo, or drone bomber attacks? It seems to me that while there were plenty of things in the last few years to upset conservatives, there weren't that many that actually gave liberals a feeling of accomplishment.

The ACA was it. They used every bit of political capital they had to pass it. And while it doesn't look that much like what they really wanted, to their minds it was nevertheless cheap at the price. They've dreamed of this since FDR.

If ACA goes down, I can imagine a chunk of liberals just dropping out of the political process in disgust.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 15, 2011 8:11 AM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

I can see a scenario where the "activist" OWS crowd riots, while other Progressives just throw up their hands in despair.

And if the OWS/black panthers interfere with voting ... if the election is widely viewed as tampered with, then government's legitimacy goes out the window.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 15, 2011 10:45 AM

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