How the Health Care Ruling Could Affect the Election

How the Health Care Ruling Could Affect the Election April 11, 2012

There’s been a lot of speculation on how a potential Supreme Court ruling striking down the individual mandate or the entire health care reform law might affect this year’s election, if they hand down a ruling on the merits in early summer as many expect. Some have even speculated that such a ruling could help Obama’s reelection campaign, though that seems pretty fanciful to me. But this blog has an interesting argument that a ruling upholding the mandate could actually help Republicans:

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 think that’s pretty smart. It probably would fuel Republican enthusiasm, in House races in particular. But I’m not so sure it doesn’t help Romney. Yes, we know that on a substantive level, Romney was all for the individual mandate and that he’s lying now when he says he’s against it. But does that really matter? He has backed himself into a corner where he would have to sign a bill repealing it if Congress were to pass one. And the only way Congress passes one is if they can take control of the Senate. So it might well fuel more Republican enthusiasm in Senate races, and those people have no one to vote for but Romney. Yes, Romney will be a hypocrite, but who else could they vote for? Obama? So I think it’s entirely possible that a ruling upholding the mandate could help Republicans this fall.


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  • slc1

    Very interesting. A ruling in favor of the Health Care Plan helps the Rethuglicans, a ruling against the Health Care Plan helps the Rethuglicans. Heads I win, tail you lose.

  • John Hinkle

    Yup. If the Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare, we’re looking at Obama opening government-run Soylent Green factories. Won’t be a big deal for atheists though, since we already have thousand-page recipe tomes for baby.

  • d cwilson

    My prediction:

    The Supreme Court will overturn the mandate. Romney will breathe a huge sigh of relief, but the footsoldiers of the GOP will privately curse the court for taking a key wedge issue off the table.

    Liberals, on the other hand, will be fired up and demand that Congress take up single payer or at minimum, a public option. They, of course, will be ignored by both parties.

  • Michael Heath

    I think the vote allocation may largely influence the reaction by Republicans. If it’s 7-2 or higher against them, than we’ll hear some energetic whining from a few but I doubt it’ll become an issue they’ll able to leverage into a higher turn-out favoring them in November. 5-4 against conservatives and I think it becomes a core campaign factor. I’m not sure about 6-3 against conservatives.

    Re the John Cole blog post today about Democrats not fighting as hard as Mr. Cole would like: One would hope 5-4 against Obamacare that effectively guts it would energize Democrats in a positive manner, “positive” being that they achieve greater electoral success in ’12. No predictions on whether this will happen, I don’t know what to make the Democratic party since the ’10 election season. From my perspective 2010 was the year they squandered the opportunity to dominate federal power, with the capability in hand to be effective at governing as well. Instead they’re virtually leaderless from a political perspective.

    I think Obamacare is the first historic test for Chief Justice John Roberts. One premise to consider when gauging his performance post-ruling is his prior repeated advocacy for very narrow rulings. My own sense is that Mr. Roberts has not yet taken off the advocate hat he wore for most of his career where his great success as an advocate is the primary reason he’s a justice and a chief justice. So I have little confidence he’ll be an effective leader on this issue focused squarely on defending the Constitution.

    And I see the chips on Alito, Scalia, and Thomas’ respective shoulders growing ever larger where they have increasing zeal to stick it to non-conservatives, regardless of the Constitution or the national interest. The reaction to the Citizens United case seems to stick in their respective craws and has them doubling down on their commitment to the conservative political agenda, as opposed to adapting when they make mistakes. This behavior once again validates this thoroughly unbecoming yet definitional attribute of modern-day American conservatives.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Let’s distinguish the two big steps available to the Court in “overturning” the PPACA: striking down the mandate but leaving the rest, or striking the whole shebang on the grounds that, as one Justice put it, the Court isn’t inclined to wade through the whole thing trying to strike a balance.

    If the Court rules narrowly on the mandate (a possible compromise that, for instance, Kennedy and even Roberts might accept) the political results will be very different from a 5-4 decision wiping out the entire PPACA.

  • Michael Heath

    I’m not sure overturning the mandate can be a narrow ruling. Has anyone laid out a feasible way to cover everyone without a universal mandate? ‘Feasible’ doesn’t currently include single-payer.

  • austintravis

    @2 While I look forward to the inevitable decline in prices when a well-recognized brand name like Soylent Green enters the market, in these tough economic times, this atheist will stick with generic lean, finely textured baby when cooking.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I’m not sure overturning the mandate can be a narrow ruling. Has anyone laid out a feasible way to cover everyone without a universal mandate?

    That’s not the Court’s problem though, is it?

  • Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    So, If the court rules against the mandate, that won’t help Obama.

    But if it rules for the mandate, that WILL help Romney.

    Since the court is in a situation where there are no realistic options other than upholding the mandate or striking it, then Romney will not be helped relative to Obama, or he will be helped relative to Obama.

    But there is no ruling helpful to Obama.

    Riiiiiiight. I got your logic here.

    No, really. I’ve got your logic right here, anytime you want to pick some up. Shipping & handling free, even!