Thursday, April 5, 2012

What if the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare?

Every article I've read since the Supreme Court's oral arguments on Obamacare that addressed the "what if" question started with the assumption that they would declare the individual mandate unconstitutional. Those kinds of "what if's" are important to consider. But nowhere have I seen anyone talk about the other possibility...what if the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare?"

I know that most of this pontificating has gone in that direction because people think the oral arguments went badly and that the justices showed their leanings based on the questions they asked. But most legal scholars recognize that as a lousy way of predicting the outcome.

So lets think about it for just a minute...what happens if Obamacare survives?

First - and most importantly - are that:

30 million more people get health insurance
People with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage
Young people up to age 26 can stay on their parent's health insurance plans
The Medicare prescription donut-hole remains closed
The medical loss ratios stay in place
There will be no lifetime limits on health insurance
The Medicare Advisory Board will be tasked with finding cost savings
Medicaid will be expanded to cover 12-15 million additional people
States will set up health insurance exchanges
Small businesses will get tax breaks for offering health insurance

And on and on...

But, from a political standpoint, the right wing will explode. And perhaps even more so due to the fact that expectations of Obamacare being declared unconstitutional have been raised. That should give the Republicans a big boost in the current enthusiasm gap. Because you can count on them making repeal of Obamacare a signature issue. That might help Republicans running for Congress is some key districts, but I'm not so sure its would be a good thing for Mitt Romney. I suspect that with his history in Massachusetts, he'd prefer that Obamacare be taken off the table in this election. But for the rest of the wingnut crowd, it will become open season on the Supreme Court. Things are pretty sure to get ugly because, as we've seen in the past, that crowd doesn't show the same kind of restraint that someone like President Obama has demonstrated.

I'd suggest that we need to be prepared for either scenario. Anyone who thinks they have a lock on predicting the outcome here is fooling themselves and anyone who bothers to pay attention to what they say.


  1. I think one of the reasons that the right seems to get increasingly ugly as time passes (since Reagan, we can say) is that it is becoming increasingly smaller. I see the right referred to as "the 27%" which I imagine is from Dick Cheney's approval rating in 2008 or something like that. The ones who are left I imagine have been this nasty all along, but their relative percentage in the GOP is growing because the GOP in terms of active identification is shrinking.

    The GOP made a decision some time ago to use rhetoric and media to sell unpopular policy. Now, that media and rhetoric are the only things keeping the party alive. The GOP is as we know not a conservative balance to a liberal Democratic party. It serves no positive function in the system on the system's terms, like a right-of-center party might.

    I imagine the ACA will be ruled Constitutional, but you're right, it's not done until it's done. The precedent is entirely in the bill's favor. Scalia and Thomas do not a majority make. They may not understand it, but Roberts likely understands that by all objective measures, the right lost this round, and that to rule otherwise would make for a lot of unforeseen ugliness in the medium and long term.

    That said, I do think the GOP is bottoming out. It's in a cheap hotel with a crate of whiskey, dialing phone sex numbers

    1. Totally true. They are desperate, not because of any one election, but because they can see the long term demographics of the country working against them. Old white racists/homophobes are going away. People under the age of 50 or so, generally, are ok with racial and sexual differences, and even more so as your go younger. White people are becoming a smaller percentage of the country. If the vote had gone the same way in 1988 as it did in 2008 - *Michael Dukakis* would have won. The right wing as we know it now will be extinct in 20 years' time. Their base will have died out from under them, and their wedge issues will no longer win elections. That's why they're changing the rules, cheating, engaging in voter suppression, and generally playing the hardest hardball they know how - they're getting ready to lose elections for a couple of decades.

    2. The problem as I suppose is obvious is that while this right wing will indeed become extinct they are not going out politely. They really are going to try to take as many people with them as they can, and while it would be very wrong to lose sight of the specificity of Trayvon Martin's murder, I read the response to it on the right in this context. They may not be able to make the President pay--I say this in the right's voice, not mine--but Trayvon paid in blood for what they view as Obama's sins. This is Zimmerman, Sanford PD aside--they are a specific issue.

    3. Just a quick note; the 27% figure comes from the percentage of the vote Alan Keyes received running against Barack Obama in 2004 in Illinois.

    4. Bill -

      Let's not insult the cheap hotel, the crate of whiskey, and the phone sex numbers by associating them with the GOP.


  2. 6-3 to be upheld with Scalia, Thomas and Alito as the negatives. And that way Romney can run on killing Romneycare...

  3. The amount of debate on the floor of the House and Senate, hours of mark-up in committees of both the House and Senate and the huge number of repug amendments that were accepted by both chambers means the law does indeed represent the wishes of the American people. Not to mention that all of this including the Conference Committee was televised and is now still available on CSpan archives.

    That said, I think the President was absolutely on point in his comments on both Monday and Tuesday. If the SC dains to overlook or rationalize away ALL of this democratic input, they will indeed be acting in an unprecented manner and will overreach their bounds.

    I pray for an upholding of the law to relieve the misery of millions of Americans. If not that what use is a SC.


    1. Anon -

      SCOTUS has never ruled that Americans must be forced into action in the manner of ACA... Only one law has ever been passed requiring Americans to purchase a good - and that was a law (never enforced) which required all American citizens to purchase a firearm and ammunition for the purpose of the "well regulated (practiced) militia".

      With that being said, I'm holding my nose in regard to this unprecedented power grab by some people in our government, and hoping "Obamacare" is ruled constitutional. Congress has dilly-dallied long enough, and has gotten no results. At least Obama got something done - but not a solution that pleases the majority of people. I just hope that this is a one-off ruling, and one which can not set a precedent for future government mandates....


    2. The military draft itself, a fundamental festure of the US for one hundred years, also "forced Americans into action".

  4. the GOP would go crazy, and that's fine with me. let them go crazy

  5. Interesting; Nate Silver predicted (and I agree) that the Supreme Court striking down ACA in whole or part would depress Democrats and make Obama look week, thus helping the Republicans. Could it be that the Republicans feed on conflict, whereas Democrats shrink from it?


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