Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Can Obama Survive a Supreme Court Defeat?

The ultimate irony of 2012 would be for Mitt Romney to win by running away from health care reforms he once pioneered while Barack Obama’s presidency bleeds out from injuries sustained while trying to pass them nationally.

A new poll shows two-thirds of Americans hope the Supreme Court will overturn some or all of the 2010 law this month. Only 24 percent want the Court to “keep the entire health care law in place.”

When it rules later this month, the Court may well start an Obamacare avalanche to bury not only the individual mandate but underpinnings of the entire law, as Jeffrey Toobin explains in the New Yorker.

That could well be the final nail in the coffin of Democratic hopes to hold on to the White House and/or at least one chamber of Congress.

Toobin destroys wishful thinking that the President could politically survive and “avoid the problem of defending the law on the campaign trail and concentrate instead on issues on which the Democratic view is more popular.

“This is nonsense. In the first place, in politics and the rest of life, it’s always better to win than lose...Moreover, the invalidation of such a central achievement of his Administration would taint Obama’s Presidency forever...it would look like Obama overreached in the way that the stereotype suggests that liberals often do in expanding the size of government.

“In the event of a loss, Obama would blame the Court, perhaps for good reason, but for better or worse the Justices will have the last word. In the famous words of Justice Robert Jackson, ‘We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.’”

For collectors of ironies, the bottom line in such a November defeat would be that the health-care war was lost not only by the ugly spectacle of both parties in Congress bloating the law into a monstrous mess but a President who let them do it by not taking charge at the start.

Instead on analyzing the red-meat issue and offering a plan to deal with its major components, the President stepped back and tossed it into the Congressional boneyard where it could be shredded into scraps.

Instead of emphasizing how the current system threatens to bankrupt the middle class, Obama chose to reassure them that they could keep their current coverage while appealing to their sense of fairness in bringing 30 million uninsured into it, opening the way for Tea Party demagoguery about socialism.

Instead of acknowledging that cost containment was a complex tangle of provider greed and unbridled patient sense of entitlement, Obama persisted in hazy formulations about bending the cost curve.

And yet, as on every issue in this election, when voters go to the polls, they will be facing a choice between a President suffering from self-inflicted injuries in pursuit of noble goals and a successor who is, in my friend Murray Kempton’s image, a general who stays safely above the battle and comes down later to shoot the wounded.

Barack Obama has made strategic and tactical mistakes in his first term, but he deserves a far better fate than being swept away by the aftermath of a Pyrrhic victory on health care in favor of people whose vocabulary does not recognize “noble” as a national goal.
 
Update: Small consolation for the President that it may be, a new poll shows only 44 percent of Americans approving of the Supreme Court with three-quarters saying decisions are sometimes influenced by personal or political views, compared to 66 percent of approval ratings two decades ago.

Welcome to the Apocalypse, Mr. Justices.

3 comments:

Norhwest Ohio Native said...

I've got a question. When do you think the Supreme Court became impartial? I seem to remember in my youth that we totally respected the Court, but in the last decade it has become suspect.

GRCOH said...

We won't have to worry about Obama after the Supreme Court declares the federal government to be unconstitutional.

OldDoc said...

Saddest thing is, that the majority supports most of the individual elements. (these polls never go into depth).
From Kaiser;
Approve of;
-Tax credits to small businesses - 80%
-Subsidy assistance to individuals 71%
-Require easy‐to‐understand plan summaries 79%
-Guaranteed issue 69 %
- Gradual closing of “the Medicare prescription drug ‘doughnut hole’ -78%

Know what is ALSO decreasing?
The people who actually KNOW what is in the law;
From Kaiser;
FAMILIARITY WITH LAW’S PROVISIONS ERODES AS TIME PASSES
On the flip side, only one in four Americans and a similar share of seniors—are aware that the ACA has lowered prescription drug
costs for seniors (through its gradual closing of the Medicare prescription drug ‘doughnut hole’), and that it has eliminated cost
sharing for key preventive services. In each case, not even a majority of the law’s supporters are aware of the implementation of
these provisions.

Reminds one of the 1994 WSJ poll;
"Many Don't Realize It's Clinton Plan They Like,"
When various health care options were read to them without identifying their sponsors, 76 percent said the Clinton plan had either "a great deal of appeal" or "some appeal," making it more popular than any of the competing proposals.

Next question:
What do you think of the Clinton plan?
74% Don’t like it.

Next question:

Why don’t you like the Clinton Plan?
52% Don’t know
30% You will be arrested if you go to your own doctor Which was not true.