2012 Tuesday: After the Obamacare ruling

The Supreme Court is due to rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate in Obamacare before the end of the month. If the mandate stands, the rest of the law will, too. If it falls, however, there will also be the question of how much of the rest of the law must go with it — and, of course, what to do next.

Along the way, the issue will have an impact on the re-election chances of the man for whom the law was nicknamed. But what kind of impact, and how much?

Up to a point, I think the results have been baked into existing opinion about President Obama and Mitt Romney. The law’s supporters are largely on Obama’s side, and most of its critics are on Romney’s side. There may be some crossover voting for Obama by independents who dislike the law, and vice versa, but if so they’ll be making their decisions for reasons beyond Obamacare — which means the court’s ruling is unlikely to sway them. There may be some change in enthusiasm, but I wouldn’t expect it to be very great. And, given the many possible outcomes, it’s best to wait until we have a ruling to hash out how it might affect voters’ moods.

I said only “up to a point,” however, because I think there’s potential for significant movement depending on how the candidates and their campaigns react to the news.

I think it would be foolish (not to mention churlish) for the Obama campaign to try to blame and paint the Supreme Court as yet another external force arrayed against it. First, rulings issued by the court as recently as yesterday proved that there is no hard ideological schism among the justices. The three 5-4 rulings unveiled Monday included majorities of 1) Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Elena Kagan and Anthony Kennedy; 2) Kennedy, Thomas, Samuel Alito, John Roberts and Stephen Breyer; and 3) Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas. In a fourth case that broke 8-1, only Sotomayor dissented. All nine justices found themselves in a majority at least once in these four cases, while only Kennedy and Thomas were in the majority all four times. That’s hardly the picture of a rigidly divided bench.

Second, public opinion falls sharply on the side of believing the mandate is unconstitutional. In a poll taken in February, a month before the court heard oral arguments in the Obamacare case, Gallup found 72 percent of all respondents thought the mandate violated the Constitution, including majorities of both Democrats (56 percent) and those who think the law is “a good thing” (54 percent). More recently, a CBS News/New York Times poll found two-thirds of respondents wanted the court to throw out at least the mandate, including a plurality of Democrats (48 percent).

So, trying to curry favor with voters by castigating the court would be a strategy that ignores public sentiment — not to mention striking yet another blow to Obama’s self-proclaimed desire to be a unifying figure.

As for Romney, he should expect a great deal of media attention to focus on congressional Republicans’ response. No prizes for guessing whether the press will portray the House GOP or Senate Democrats as the main obstacle to a legislative solution should all or part of the law be overturned.

Rather than trying to herd congressional cats as a mere candidate, however, Romney would be well-advised to keep his focus on what he can control — namely, what he would do to remedy the situation if voters give him that opportunity.

This is one way in which his choice of a running mate could materially affect his election prospects, and it’s one of the reasons I think Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal should be at the top of his short list. Before being elected governor, Jindal served as both the head of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals  — with responsibility for the state’s Medicaid program — and, federally, as a top adviser to the secretary for Health and Human Services. If any potential running mate has the experience and knowledge to help a President Romney devise a sensible solution for health policy, it’s Jindal. (He’d also be a tremendous asset to the campaign when it comes to energy policy and could speak first-hand about how the Obama administration botched the response to the BP oil spill.)

Expect any post-ruling bounce for Obama or Romney to be short-lived until voters have a chance to assess what each man would do going forward. Then, the ruling could have a significant effect on the election.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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231 comments Add your comment

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

June 19th, 2012
11:55 am

What other strategy does obozo have besides attacking and slandering decent, law abiding people?

1961_Xer

June 19th, 2012
11:59 am

I think it would be foolish (not to mention churlish) for the Obama campaign to try to blame and paint the Supreme Court as yet another external force arrayed against it.

Expect the foolish/churlish. This is a “blame everyone but me” president.

As to Bobby Jindal…. I like the guy. I have seen him speak a dozen times. He is a unifier of both parties in his state, and puts the interest of the people of LA above politics. Sure, some folks from both sides are going to hate him, but he is a smart guy with a lot of knowledge of how government works and how the private sector works.

Don't Tread

June 19th, 2012
12:03 pm

“striking yet another blow to Obama’s self-proclaimed desire to be a unifying figure”

Striking down 0bamacare would also strike another blow to 0bama’s desire to make himself the de facto dictator. Of course, the liberals will be tied in knots, as they don’t care whether something is Constitutional or not if it’s something they support.

md

June 19th, 2012
12:16 pm

It doesn’t matter any more……Obama will just rule by executive fiat……he’ll keep the court tied up for at least the remainder of his term wasting millions in taxpayer dollars doing so.

JohnnyReb

June 19th, 2012
12:16 pm

Being optimistic, during the re-do Republicans will need to guard against popular support for pre-existing conditions and keeping adult children on daddy’s policy. Both are entitlements that punish others through higher premiums.

carlosgvv

June 19th, 2012
12:18 pm

I would guess it will figure somewhat in the election if the vote is 5 to 4 and if the majority are ALL either the conservatives or liberals, understanding that one of the justices swings both ways.

ByteMe

June 19th, 2012
12:20 pm

what [Romney] would do to remedy the situation if voters give him that opportunity.

Does anyone clearly know what he would do at all? First he’s against something and claims it’s all Obama’s fault, then he’s for something and claims it’s all Obama’s fault, then the winds change direction….

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 19th, 2012
12:25 pm

1961 is right, no matter what happens, Oblamer will find someone to blame other than his regime. That will be his legacy, blame redistribution.

I like Jindal as well, but doubt he will be the one. I just feel Romney’s strategy is to take one of the rust belt states that is currently blue and flip it. To me, I am thinking Portman or Ryan, but don’t want to get off topic.

I just hope the court strikes down the whole caboodle, because if there is one shred left Oblamer is going to try his new found power grab strategy, and prop it up, somehow, with an Executive Order or by having Sebelius write a bunch of regulations that work around congress.

I think that could work in Romney’s favor, if the Court is very critical and Oblamer tries to shove a rescue down the throats of the voters.

The Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers

June 19th, 2012
12:28 pm

not to mention striking yet another blow to Obama’s self-proclaimed desire to be a unifying figure.

This clown can’t be delusional enough to see himself as a unifier. He’s turned the classes in this country upon each other, embraced the occutards, blamed everyone else for his inability to improve the economy or anything, and is so rigid he would rather rule by executive order than roll up his sleeves and compromise with the other side. And people are so blind by the color of his skin that they would run to the polls and pull the clown lever.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 19th, 2012
12:31 pm

I still think the early money on the mandate being overturned is a good bet, possibly by as much as a 6-3 ruling but more likely a 5-4.

Less likely, but still possible, is that the court strikes down the entire law due to Congressional Democrats stupidly neglecting to put in the standard severability clause into the legislation in their rush to get this through a Congress while their majority lasted in the Senate.

So I’m going to address the “what if’s” on the first point, leaving out my hopeful take on the second point.

First, what happens to the electorate depends on what Obama does if the mandate is struck down. He’s shown an alarming penchant for going around the intent of the legislative branch whenever it suits him. I hope he isn’t so foolish as to try to subvert the ruling of the SCOTUS and try to find alternative funding through Executive Order.

But I wouldn’t put it past him to try.

If he does that, he’s toast in November, given the unfavorable view of this law with the voting public. But his desire to have his signature piece of legislation remain alive would be very strong. I agree with Kyle that he’d be more likely to attack the Court as being activist; not that it will change the outcome of the ruling, but that he would hope it sways voters. Again, a long shot for him due to the inherent dislike of the mandate and the method by which this bill was passed.

And he has to try to do something, because if this ruling goes against him, Obama will have been perceived as wasting an entire year of his Presidency on something that no longer exists, and Romney and the Republicans will jump on that big-time. Expect a lot of “The economy is so bad because he took his eye off the ball to pass an unConstitutional law” kind of message at every campaign stop, not to mention it will be a major focus in any Presidential debates later in the fall.

I think the down-ballot races are affected as well. Pelosi and Reid will have a much tougher time adding or retaining seats if the specter of Obamacare – Part deux looms on the horizon. Why revisit that with a Democrat majority in 2013 when it failed so miserably in 2009?

Finally, House Republicans would be wise to pass individual legislation keeping the favorable parts of Obamacare like no refusal for pre-existing conditions and no cancellation due to catastrophic illness, while adding in tort reform and other sensible reforms, but doing so individually rather than an all-encompassing reform package.

md

June 19th, 2012
12:32 pm

“I would guess it will figure somewhat in the election if the vote is 5 to 4 and if the majority are ALL either the conservatives or liberals, understanding that one of the justices swings both ways.”

Might want to read that one again…..we know what you mean, but it makes no sense.

Red

June 19th, 2012
12:41 pm

A Hindu and a Mormon atop the R ticket- I never thought I would ever live long enough to see that happen.

Kyle Wingfield

June 19th, 2012
12:43 pm

And you might not yet, Red: Jindal is a Catholic.

Jimmy62

June 19th, 2012
12:45 pm

The problem, as always, is George W. Bush.

BS Aplenty

June 19th, 2012
12:46 pm

A part of me, OK, a very small part of me, would ALMOST like to see the court rule that the law is consitutional. Not because I agree with government controlled health care. No, Obamacare is a default solution when you want to control a large segment of the economy NOT provide an efficient, effective system for delivering healthcare to your population.

But IF, the law is confirmed, then the November election could be turned into a mandate on Obamacare. A nice strategic opportunity for Mr. Romney, an opportunity that appears to have great mass appeal. Given your statistics on the composition of the court’s majority over the past several opinions, a confirmation of the law is not out of the question.

JohnnyReb

June 19th, 2012
12:46 pm

I could support Jindal. For those on the Left challenged with what my support for a Romney/Jindal ticket has to do with anything? It means, I would give them money, not that they would need it.

clyde

June 19th, 2012
12:47 pm

We will know soon enough.In the meantime I wait with trepidation.Five people are going to decide my medical future.And with it my financial future.

JohnnyReb

June 19th, 2012
12:49 pm

“The problem, as always, is George W. Bush.”

Hogwash!

The only people who have a problem with W is the Left who won’t vote for Mitt regardless.

The real problem is the fickle who in a weak moment may vote for Barry.

BS Aplenty

June 19th, 2012
12:51 pm

Excuse me, that would be “…a referendum on Obamacare.”

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

June 19th, 2012
12:54 pm

Seems to be a Lib free Tuesday today. Guess they are all studying the electoral map, changing before their eyes.

tiredofIT

June 19th, 2012
12:54 pm

“Second, public opinion falls sharply on the side of believing the mandate is unconstitutional.” These people can’t even set their digital clocks.

hatorade drinker

June 19th, 2012
12:55 pm

Ha ha haaaaaaa. Kyle, they pay you for such shallow and baseless thinking?

where is the healthcare solution from romney, apart from now being on board to dismantle something of his own creation, just because that’s what his party wants now that their soultion from 1992 has been implemented by someone not on their side?

Red

June 19th, 2012
1:02 pm

Of course you are correct, Jindal converted from Hindu to Catholic- so let me correct my previous post:

A Catholic and a Mormon atop the R ticket- I never thought I would ever live long enough to see that happen.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 19th, 2012
1:03 pm

“where is the healthcare solution from romney”

First of all, you have engaged in a deflection.

Second, I suggest you read the GOP’s position on health care reform. It’s out there if you truly wish to educate yourself.

stands for decibels

June 19th, 2012
1:07 pm

I think it would be foolish (not to mention churlish) for the Obama campaign to try to blame and paint the Supreme Court as yet another external force arrayed against it.

Perhaps. But it would be foolish for the Obama campaign not to recognize that the public’s approval of this branch of government pretty low of late, and that a supreme court ruling probably doesn’t have the weight of moral authority that it once had.

Which is another way of saying, a decision that doesn’t go their way has to be managed somehow, and public displeasure at the Court would play a role.

md

June 19th, 2012
1:08 pm

“where is the healthcare solution from romney”

Not paying attention huh?

He said he favors the States deciding how they want to handle it……which makes a heck of a lot more sense……50 laboratories working on the problem vs one halfbaked monster bill fraught with one party ideology…………..

Darwin

June 19th, 2012
1:10 pm

Republican voter: I was for Romneycare before I was against Obamacare.

md

June 19th, 2012
1:11 pm

“public displeasure at the Court”

And that displeasure is usually relative to which side “won”…….so it should have no real bearing as each side will vote according to side anyway.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 19th, 2012
1:17 pm

Obama, a unifier? Why I thought only republicant’s are unifiers!! i mean look how they unified the whole nation on that popular war in Iraq…..oh wait……

ummm….okay, let’s try this one – Look how they unified the state of Florida over the Terri Schiavo fiasco by using their “limited government” manifest destiny cry by denying Schiavo’s husband’s legal court granted petition to end her suffering….why the whole country was for that ……………..oh wait……………

hmmmmm………….I know!! Look how they unify the country on subjects like gay marriage by preaching a doctrine of love and support of gays and………….WOW! Not that one…………..

unification………….hmmm…………

OK got it!! Look how the republican’t unified the country in unforgiveable debt by cutting taxes unnecessrily, doing away with the Pay/go system in Congress, refusing to see inconsistencies in reporting on Wall Street, creating two wars, squandering a surplus AND with a republican president, congress and senate, STILL found a way to blame everyone but themselves for their predicament!!!

Whew! I KNEW I could find a great “unifying” example!!!!! :)

Cosby

June 19th, 2012
1:21 pm

Do not bet that it will be striken down. With Sotomyer and Kagel sitting on the bench, any radical thinking can be had. Obama and his pal holder, have become “Rulers” and defied the constitution time and time again. One wonders why congress has relented its power to the “Ruler”. So I urge all to think, if the Supreme Court does rule agains Obama, Harry and Nancy, does that mean they will accept it decision..naa they will ignore it as this administration has ignored the constitution from the first day. Obama, Harry, Nancy and Holder should all be tried on treason

Kyle Wingfield

June 19th, 2012
1:23 pm

stands: Actually, 44 percent is not all that far from Obama’s own approval rating. The Gallup poll conducted at the same time, and referenced in the Times’ story, put Obama at 46 percent. And disapproval is higher for him: The Times’ poll put the court’s approval/disapproval at 44/36; Gallup had Obama’s at 46/46. So the court was +8 while Obama was at +0.

I repeat: I’d tread carefully here if I were Obama.

Tommy Maddox

June 19th, 2012
1:24 pm

Hey Darwin:

“Romneycare” was a State’s law enacted by a State’s Democratic Legislature done at the behest of the State’s constituency. Other than the fact that it was passed by a Democratic Legislature, the similarities end there.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 19th, 2012
1:35 pm

Tommy – a Republican Governor didn’t veto it; he SIGNED it; (after he helped to create it).

I find it very intersting how republicans have a limited recollection of history…………….

md

June 19th, 2012
1:36 pm

“in unforgiveable debt by cutting taxes unnecessrily”

Yet neither side is advocating for those cuts to be reinstated…….but one is practicing non-unity by wanting to raise them only on the other guy………….

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 19th, 2012
1:37 pm

Kyle — Lots of people don’t even answer those polls. In 2008 the polls put McCain ahead of Obama — guess what happened next………….

md

June 19th, 2012
1:38 pm

“a Republican Governor didn’t veto it; he SIGNED it; (after he helped to create it).”

As the leader of a State……..one of 50……which means the others were still free to do as they pleased without one ideology dictating the terms……..

mike

June 19th, 2012
1:39 pm

What’s funny is most people this care bill would help have been fooled, bam boozled and just plain lied to about this bill. Hey nothing wrong with morons voting against their own best interests. Actually I hope ole Mitt gets in there. Then he will really screw the middle and lower classes in this country. You guys will deserve exactly what happens.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 19th, 2012
1:40 pm

Debbie, the Republican governor didn’t veto it, because his legislature was made up with a 90% Democrat to Republican mix. Any veto would have been quickly overridden.

I find it very interesting that liberals have a limited knowledge of the political reality of the Massachusetts legislature.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 19th, 2012
1:42 pm

Yet neither side is advocating for those cuts to be reinstated…….but one is practicing non-unity by wanting to raise them only on the other guy…………

The “other guy” was the one who benefitted from the cuts.

Oh History Loving Republican, History Loving Republican….wherefore art thou?

Deny thy father Satan and refuse his name;
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn to the truth
And I’ll no longer be a doubter.

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not Democrat or an Independent.
What’s republican? It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;

So Republican would, were he not Rrepublcian call’d,
Retain that dear perfection of such things as history and such things as law or such things as debt, which he owes
Without that title.

md

June 19th, 2012
1:43 pm

“What’s funny is most people this care bill would help have been fooled, bam boozled and just plain lied to about this bill.”

Absolutely correct…..it was sold as a healthcare bill, when in reality it is another monster entitlement program added to a stable of already unaffordable entitlement programs.

Subsidies for those making as little as 88K a year……are you freaking kidding me??

Peter Currie

June 19th, 2012
1:44 pm

Obamacare is at least a step toward the egalitarianism Jesus tried to teach us. Heathcare is a basic human need/right and should not be treated as a privelege. As I remember from the Bible, He healed all with his miracles, not just those who could afford it. He preached, above all, equality and the need to help those who couldn’t afford. He taught the ethics of giving without reciprocity. What would Jesus say today, conservative Christians?

md

June 19th, 2012
1:45 pm

“The “other guy” was the one who benefitted from the cuts. ”

Hmmm….everybody gets a cut and somehow it is logical that only one segment that received those cuts benefited………

Yep…..makes sense to someone……..

Red

June 19th, 2012
1:46 pm

RE: “Romneycare” was a State’s law enacted by a State’s Democratic Legislature done at the behest of the State’s constituency. Other than the fact that it was passed by a Democratic Legislature, the similarities end there.

Taking that to its natural conclusion, should the 13th amendment be repealed in order to let the state’s decide on their own?

Kyle Wingfield

June 19th, 2012
1:47 pm

Debbie: The polls — by which I mean the Real Clear Politics average of polls — had McCain ahead for exactly nine days between April 15 and Election Day, all in early September.

So, what’s your point?

stands for decibels

June 19th, 2012
1:48 pm

Actually, 44 percent is not all that far from Obama’s own approval rating.

Correct. But that’s held pretty steady the past couple of years. What’s changed is public confidence in what used to be seen as a somewhat, or perhaps mostly, non-partisan entity.

(I don’t claim to know all that much about the history of public perception regarding the court; I do know that many years ago there were calls from the right to impeach a couple of justices, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been down that road.)

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 19th, 2012
1:48 pm

As the leader of a State……..one of 50……which means the others were still free to do as they pleased without one ideology dictating the terms……

He still has the power to veto if he was so strongly against something. That guy in New Jersey, (republican governor), vetoed a law that wanted to give gay people the right to marry. You gotta give him credit for his balls, maybe not for his policies, but he had the balls to back up his words.

Mitt on the other hand…………well, he didn’t do it. So now he gets to play “victim”. Amazing.

md

June 19th, 2012
1:48 pm

“Heathcare is a basic human need/right and should not be treated as a privelege.”

So, free food for everybody??

If we are going to make it a right, then everybody is going to have to start making the exact same choices in life……..which will never happen…….so screw that “right”.

“pursuit of happiness” understands that humans make choices……….

Kyle Wingfield

June 19th, 2012
1:50 pm

Red: That is a “natural conclusion” only if you equate not having insurance with being a slave.

DebbieDoRight - A Do Right Woman

June 19th, 2012
1:50 pm

Kyle – you just made my point for me. Thanks.

1961_Xer

June 19th, 2012
1:50 pm

The “50 states” version of Obamacare at least has a chance. Let me explain….

If the richest states in our nation cannot enact health care programs the work within their own borders, then the country… as a whole… cannot do so. You see, the SAME CITIZENS that finance healthcare on a national level also do so on a state level.

Example: if New Hampshire, the richest state (per capita) in the country, cannot enact state healthcare for their own citizens due to financial reasons, then there is no way that North Carolina or Louisiana (the poorest per capita states) can do so.

Corporations and 51% of taxpaying wage earners are going to pay for this, regardless of whether they are paying to the state or to the Federal government. The Feds do not have “more money” for healthcare, as all of the money is coming out of the same pool of taxpayer’s pockets. Sure, the Feds can borrow more than states, but using that as an excuse for healthcare at the federal level immediately implies that the plan will go broke at some point in the future. Like I said, the same people are paying for it no matter the level of government it is implemented. So if it cannot be implemented at the state level in rich states… and be successful… then a Federal/national plan simply will not work. It would rely on an EVEN HIGHER tax burden on those wealthy states’ taxpayers as now they would not only be funding the poor in their own state, but for the poor in other, poorer, states as well.

Once you view all taxpayers (individuals and businesses) as a single source of revenue, then you understand that if rich states cannot implement universal healthcare for their own citizens, then poorer states cannot do so and the country as a whole cannot do so.

Massachusetts is a perfect example. It is one of the top 10 “rich” states It is geographically small with a high concentration of excellent sources of healthcare. If any state can successfully implement a state system (RomneyCare), then it would be Mass. If a rich state like Massachusetts needs money for their plan, who can give it to them? The Feds? That is taking more money from the same people through a different channel. Other States? Which ones? Alabama? Wyoming? These states cannot even afford to finance their OWN plans, much less subsidize one of the richest states in the nation. In fact, quite the opposite is true: in an Obamacare scenerio, The poorer states, of which Alabama is one, will rely on richer states, like Mass, to subsidize their state. So when you read something like:

In 2012, health care will consume a majority (54%) of the state’s budget. Among the states, is that the highest proportion? It believe so. Massachusetts is the health spending king.

then you wonder how Massachusetts will also be able to subsidize poorer states in a national health care scenerio.

The ONLY way that the Feds would make a difference is to force healthcare providers to take less…. MUCH LESS… on a national level. That, or they will need ration healthcare via faceless bureaucracies, choosing who gets what healthcare and how much. One example is that obese patients , who use about 70% of the healthcare dollars in this country, would be required to lose weight and be compliant with their medications, or get cut off of the public health care dole. Which politician, you ask, will be willing to cut off 35% of their constituents? None. Which doctor, you ask, will be willing to give 12 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to practice medicine will be willing to take less than $100k in salary? None.

Hard choices have to be made BEFORE a law is passed because it is impossible to make them after a law is passed. There is no political will to do so (see “Medicare”) after a law is passed.