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Obamacare Appeal: Shrewd or Stupid?
The Supreme Court of the United States is all but certain to take up the issue of Mr. Obama’s healthcare plan this term, with a ruling coming near June of 2012, as the Presidential race heads into the conventions. Conventional wisdom holds that the Left wants to see the law upheld in toto, while the Right wants to see the law repealed in toto. I’m wondering if the political goals of the two ideologies are not better served by the opposite result, or alternatively, if this is a lose-lose proposition for the left, and consequently, a huge mistake by the Obama administration.
If the law is upheld, even in part, those command-and-control Leftists (in essence, all “progressive” lefties) will celebrate as the Supremes Erase the last vestiges of constraint upon governmental power. If Congress can order a private citizen to buy X under penalty of law, what is next? Will Congress enact a “bad food penalty” if you eat unhealthy food? Will Congress force dog owners to sterilize their pets or face a “non-conformance to extreme animal rights” penalty? Will Congress force people to buy cars from GM or face a “failure to support government industry takeover” penalty? Progressives will have carte blanche to force their will upon the people at any time they are in power. And there’s the rub.
If the law is upheld, even in part, conservatives will have a powerful position from which to run: “Throw the totalitarians out!” The Obamacare boondoggle will hang like a millstone upon the neck of every member of the Democrat party. The GOP base and moderates will be energized to elect a Congress that will repeal the law, and a president that will sign the law. The Democrats would be massacred in the polls. As of this writing, it is likely that, on January 21, 2013 President Cain would have a cloture-proof majority in the Senate (my guess, 62), and a House delegation in excess of 330 Republicans.
if the law is completely repealed, the Obama administration, Democrats across the nation, and “progressive” leftists will howl with rage at first. “How dare the activist Supreme Court strike down our law!” However, behind the scenes, I expect sighing with relief. Why? The stock markets would react with glee at such news, surging ahead as the economic dam which has been largely responsible for business’ recalcitrance to invest or hire would be destroyed. An economic bounce could begin to ameliorate the malaise that is the lifeblood of the GOP.
Moreover the energy of the opposition to the law, which has thus far been channeled into GOP political victory, could deflate. Independents would not have that one issue to galvanize them, and the GOP’s ideas would need to be shored up in order to prevail. The GOP base might not feel the sense of urgency, of existential threat to our values and liberty, that in part motivates and energizes it right now.
If the law is completely repealed, Mr. Obama could attempt to find other populist issues to shore up his credibility, and would be in a position to take credit for an economic bounce created by the repeal of the choking healthcare law. There is a reason that, in recent news reports, Joe Biden said that Democrats now own the economy. Depending on the economic bounce created by the repeal, Democrats could hold the Senate and Mr. Obama could even be re-elected.
My scenario admittedly depends on Mr. Obama tipping the right dominoes to cause the above-posited result. He has taken a gamble by expediting the appeal to the Supreme Court. Mr. Obama may not be secretly hoping for repeal, but a smart politician would see that the law is absolutely unpopular and completely doomed, and look for a way to both save face with his base and remove this albatross from the 2012 equation.
For the GOP, complete repeal could be the ultimate incarnation of “be careful of what you wish for.”
Now I could be wrong. In fact, I hope that I am wrong. I want the law to be repealed in the Supreme Court, because then it could not be enacted again, without an impossible amendment to the Constitution.
Now it could be that moderates have lost all trust in Mr. Obama, and all respect for anything he says. In such a case, the moderates would look at the Supremes as aiding the country in dodging a bullet, and they would be unwilling to trust that Mr. Obama isn’t just loading the chamber with something even worse. Was Obamacare the straw that broke the camel’s back?
It could be that business sees other choking tax proposals coming down the pike, and holds off on investing for even longer. That would choke off any bounce from the news of the repeal, leave the malaise in place, and give the GOP ammunition to fight against the Democrats’ command-and-control agenda.
We will have to wait and see if the Obama Administration has, by immediately appealing to the Supreme Court, made one of the shrewdest political moves in American History, in the process engineering a comeback for the ages, or if it took that portion of its foot not already in its mouth and shoved it completely through its gullet.