With a ruling on Obamacare expected as early as today — one which may strike down the individual mandate or perhaps a good deal more — liberals are anticipating the worst, and debating whether there are ways of salvaging anything good from the anticipated wreckage. If there’s consensus around any one point, it’s this: Whatever happens before the court, this debate will continue.
Mike Tomasky says Obama and Dems need to pivot off a loss and go on offense against Mitt Romney, Republicans, and the court itself:
Almost never before in American history has a Supreme Court taken a law duly passed by the people’s representatives and in just two years’ time invalidated it. If that isn’t legislating from the bench, what is? Mr. Cool needs to get Hot. Against unanimous and ferocious opposition, and in the face of blatant lies about what this bill would and would not do, he and the Democrats came up with a way for people with cancer and diabetes and what have you to get the treatment they need and not be either turned away or gouged. He’s proud of that, he ought to say, and by God, he’s going to fight for it. That provision of the law is wildly popular — 85 percent supported that, in a late-March New York Times survey. If you can’t play offense with 85 percent of the people behind you, I give up.
He should also go right at Mitt Romney, on two points. First, Romney flatly opposes coverage for all people with preexisting conditions. He backs care only for those who have had “continuous coverage,” and not for people whose insurance had lapsed at any point during their illness. So Romney is against something 85 percent of Americans support.
In sum, the Democrats should see an adverse decision as a chance to put the other guys — the Republicans in Congress, Romney, and the court’s ideological majority — on the defensive.
E.J. Dionne advocates a return to first principles:
“Obamacare” isn’t about President Obama. It’s about beginning to bring an end to the scandal of a very rich nation leaving so many of its citizens without basic health coverage. However the court rules, we need to remember why this whole fight started in the first place.
As I’ve been saying here, a ruling against parts of the law could refocus the debate on the specific reforms Dems have been championing, and on what Republicans would replace them with (in some cases, nothing). One of the individual provisions likely to be struck down by the court — a ban on discrimination against people with preexisting conditions — is overwhelmingly popular, and other individual provisions have majority support, too. Mitt Romney would not replace the preexisting-conditions provision with anything that’s nearly as comprehensive. House Republicans are not going to propose anything to replace it, either.
As Jonathan Cohn notes in a must-read, a ruling against the law will have far-reaching consequences for millions and millions of people. Those people — and their ailments — are not going away. The political analysis of a decision against the law will focus entirely on Obama and Democrats as the “losers” in this fight, with little to no mention of what it means for millions of ordinary people. Dems should not let that part of the story go untold.
Dems lost the P.R. battle over the overall law. But a recent Associated Press poll found that 77 percent of Americans want the President and Congress to get to work on a new health reform law if Obamacare is struck down. In other words, a large majority wants a federal response to the problems with the health care system, and does not want to return to a pre-reform era. There’s no sugar-coating how big a blow a ruling against the law would be for Dems, liberal governance, and the decades-old cause of health reform in general. But there’s also no reason not to rejoin the debate over health reform as aggressively as possible.
* Romney to go on offense on SCOTUS ruling, too: Mark Halperin:
It appears Mitt Romney is going to put himself front and center when the Supreme Court decision on health care is released. Romney was aggressive in dealing with the sticky issue in fighting for the Republican nomination, and it appears he plans to be aggressive again in positioning himself in opposition to the President.
Perhaps it might be a good idea to use the occasion to press Romney hard on what, if anything, he would replace Obamacare or its nixed provisions with? After all, the man is running for president.
* Legal scholars think Obamacare should be upheld, but won’t: Only 19 out of 21 scholars surveyed by Bloomberg News think legal precedent dictates that the law should be upheld. Of course, a majority of them also thinks it won’t be upheld, which suggests that these scholars don’t think the chances are too great that the decision will be rooted in legal reasoning.
* Obama allies keep hitting Romney over Bain years: The Obama-allied Priorities USA Action is up with a very tough new ad featuring a worker who was laid off from an Indiana paper plant. Closing line: “When Romney wins, the middle class loses.”
In the wake of new Post revelations about Bain’s offshoring role — and a big New York Times piece on Bain-acquired companies that were driven into bankruptcy — the Obama campaign and its allies will continue using Bain to define Romney in the crucial summer months leading into the final stretch.
* Hitting Romney for lack of specifics is now cool: It looks like those of us who have been pointing out Romney’s refusal to detail his policies now have some good company. On CBS yesterday, potential Veep pick Tim Pawlenty noted that Romney had not explained how his massive tax cuts would be paid for (though he also criticized Obama for a lack of specificity on entitlements). And Politico yesterday went big with this:
Vague, general or downright evasive policy prescriptions on some of the most important issues facing the country are becoming the rule for Romney. Hoping to make the campaign strictly a referendum on the incumbent, the hyper-cautious challenger is open about his determination to not give any fodder to Obama aides hungry to make the race as much about Romney as the president.
* The Fed’s big punt: Paul Krugman on the Fed’s delicate balancing act: It is doing just enough to avoid criticism for doing nothing at all, but it’s not doing anywhere near what we actually need in order to avoid being accused by Republicans of trying to help Obama. Priorities!
* Axelrod: Obama win will liberate GOP: Obama’s chief strategist makes an argument you’ll be hearing more of: An Obama victory will result in a new era of bipartisan cooperation, as Republicans no longer will have any reason to obstruct the President solely to weaken his reelection chances.
Whatever the merits of this argument, it’s not really about the future; it’s about the present campaign. It’s a way of arguing that an Obama win will break gridlock, so voters frustrated with government paralysis in the face of the crisis don’t conclude it’s time to elect someone else who can prevail over Congress and get things done.
* GOP divided over White House and Fast and Furious: Probe leader Darrell Issa has acknowledged that he has no evidence the White House was directly involved in a Fast and Furious cover-up, which appears to contradict John Boehner’s statement that the assertion of executive privilege is an admission of White House complicity.
With a House vote set for this week to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, one question is whether Boehner will pressure Issa to reach some kind of deal to resolve the standoff.