Post SCOTUS Arguments, Waiting Game Begins

March 29, 2012
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After two days of deliberations before the Supreme Court, the national discourse on the wrangling of the ACA’s most salient political ramifications shifts into heavy duty poltical mode. The obvious question is what effect a ruling — either for or against the indiviual mandate — has on President Obama’s re-election chances. The Dems have come out swinging heavily on this issue.

After two days of deliberations before the Supreme Court, the national discourse on the wrangling of the ACA’s most salient political ramifications shifts into heavy duty poltical mode. The obvious question is what effect a ruling — either for or against the indiviual mandate — has on President Obama’s re-election chances. The Dems have come out swinging heavily on this issue.

If the mandate is struck down (but the rest of the law is intact) in June, the party argues that the vast majority of Obama’s signature domestic issue is intact, with early adoption of some key initiatives already underway. Since less than an estimated 5 percent of the population would be affected, spin among the Democrats indicates that the overall promise of increased access and lower costs will be the desired result in the long run, regardless of the existence of the mandate provision.

Democrats would also have one less contentious wedge to worry about should the provision be struck down. Without the visceral nature of this bit of legislation to rally around, the GOP base — Democrats argue — would be less energized in a GOTV sense, leaving Democratic voters to be more influenced by the sudden “tyranny of the SCOTUS” with regard to such an emotionally charged issue and giving the party another reason to rally around its increasingly popular incumbent.

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Finally, although the option the mandate was supposed to supplant — the single payer strategy — would be hard pressed to find its way back into the political process as a viable option; the former’s absence would open up, once again, a national discussion on how to best pay for increased access to healthcare. Revisiting Medicare/Medicaid policies would be a likely result. Without a media-driven, galvanizing, emotion-baiting wedge buzzphrase feeding the voracious appetite of a willing electorate detracting from the real issues surrounding the broken financing of healthcare delivery in this country, the scope of thought will once again be determined by level-headed minds – a state I am having a difficult time recalling.