Campaign 2012: Obamacare
Before the end of this month the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
It’s a crucial decision that will affect health care in this country for decades to come.
The cost and availability of health care for all citizens of the United States are hugely important issues. Equally huge are questions of its constitutionality.
For purposes of this article, however, those heady topics will be left for the court and others to answer.
This article is limited only to the political consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision as it relates to President Barack Obama’s re-election prospects.
At Stake for President Obama
Presidents can have signature pieces of legislation that define their presidencies. For President Barack Obama that piece of legislation is the Affordable Care Act. It is so closely associated with him that it is most commonly known as Obamacare.
Republicans invented that term as a moniker of scorn, but its a term of endearment to many others. Scorn or endearment, the Supreme Court will decide that, too.
More than half of all states in the United States are challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. That can’t make the President feel very good. Perhaps President Obama, when they were siting 10 feet away, now regrets publicly lecturing Supreme Court justices on national television at the 2010 State of the Union Address.
The Supreme Court striking down anyone’s most important legislation would be a serious blow to their presidency. President Obama’s legacy is on the line. It hinges on this decision.
However, there is a more pressing immediate concern… re-election.
If the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, it will give a much needed boost to President Obama’s prestige. The legislation will likely go into full effect little changed and health care in the United States will be redefined for decades to come. It will insure President Obama will be remembered as a transformational figure in American politics.
Upholding Obamacare provides momentum to help propel the President into a second term next year.
It could also have a backlash effect, though. It could energize his opposition to double-down their efforts to get him ousted from office. Feelings against Obamacare run strong.
On the other hand, should the Supreme Court strike down any part of Obamacare it will be a serious blow to President Obama’s legacy and his re-election chances.
There will not be a reverse backlash to energize the President’s supporters. That is because Obamacare’s drag on the economy is being felt. Promised health care cost savings have not yet materialized. Voter’s health care premiums continue to skyrocket and states are strapped by the growing price tag of public employee health benefits. Hospitals all over the western United States are laying off staff.
President Obama has suffered a number of setbacks of late. Economic numbers look grim. The economy is bad and will not much improve before November. There are only 4 more monthly jobs reports to impress voters before it is to late to have a positive effect on the election.
Political missteps have allowed Mitt Romney, for the first time, to gain political momentum. He beat Obama fundraising; once thought impossible against the well-oiled Obama campaign juggernaut.
Obamacare isn’t the only highly charged Administration initiative on the Supreme Court docket this election cycle.
The Obama Administration is strongly challenging Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070, as a civil rights violation against Hispanics. The President himself stirred the boiling pot with his public remarks. The Administration is even bringing criminal charges against the Arizona sheriff who most aggressively enforces Arizona’s immigration laws.
Should the individual mandate of Obamacare be struck down and SB 1070 upheld by the Supreme Court this month it will be two haymakers smacked against Obama’s re-election campaign.
Should that occur then President Obama will face a stiff uphill battle for a second term.