I’m going to tell you something counter to what you might think about the recent Supreme Court decision mostly upholding President Obama’s health care reform bill. The President has already lost on the Affordable Care Act.
Let me give you the back-story for that statement.
President Obama scored a victory last week when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act. liberals rejoiced and conservatives groaned at the defection of Chief Justice John Roberts – a usually reliable conservative jurist – to the “liberal” wing of the Court. I even shared a silent fist bump with a coworker of mine underneath the table during an important meeting, when the decision was announced.
CNN and Fox News both flubbed the decision by the court, and were met with instant criticism of the way in which they handle breaking news in the age of blogging and Tweeting. Buzzfeed articles with compilations of tweets by people who were so upset with the decision that they claimed to be moving to Canada were posted, and the hilariousness with which these people expressed their displeasure only seemed to make the victory sweeter for the celebrating liberals.
It all seemed like a victory for the Obama administration. With the election likely to be decided based on economic fortunes, the ruling is most likely not make or break for the President. Especially when you consider that people who oppose the ACA most likely are going to vote for Gov. Romney regardless, and its supporters will be voting for President Obama. As for people who are undecided about the ACA, it will almost certainly not be the issue they base their vote on come November. The decision did give the President a break from a negative series of news cycles, and the ruling might convince a few voters that the ACA is not actually a socialist plot to destroy America, but that’s pretty much all the upside.
Here’s the problem, in 2010 Democrats got clobbered – and it was largely because of the Affordable Care Act. The President’s inability to sell his bill, which was essentially a mix of ideas from center, center-right, and right-wing think-tanks led to a 1994-esque Republican midterm sweep. Conservatives, energized by talk of “death panels” and statements like “if this bill passes, grandma better watch out” (I’ll never forget that one, Chuck Grassley), kept Democrats at home and drove Republicans to the polls. Who can forget Virginia Foxx claiming that the bill was more dangerous than any action terrorists could take against the US (which either means that Rep. Foxx is the most uninformed person in the House of Representatives on domestic policy, or international policy, or both!). Since then, President Obama’s domestic agenda has been almost completely stalled by an obstructionist Republican house majority and a filibuster-happy Senate minority-majority (in the age of the filibuster, all it takes is 41 Senators to completely dictate the political agenda.
If the President loses the next election because Republicans stopped him from passing the economic stimulative follow up he advocated for (the Jobs Act), then he may not have lost on the issue of the ACA, but rather indirectly, because of it.
(N.B. I’m yet to make an electoral prediction. I’m not saying the President will lose, just that he could. Keep your ears perked for said prediction.)