In the next week or so, the Supreme Court will hand down its ruling on Obamacare. If it strikes down all or most of the president’s “historic” achievement, you can bet the left will go bonkers. We can expect a gush of vitriol directed at the majority of the justices.
More interesting, though, will be the rationalizations for why this is actually a blessing in disguise. We’ll give them a helping hand. It will be a blessing in disguise for President Obama if the Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare because:
1. The American people hated the president’s signature achievement.
2. There is no good way to defend the rationing board (the Independent Payment Advisory Board).
3. The president won’t have to learn how his legislative jewel impacts business.
4. Liberals can get what they wanted: a single-payer system.
5. Now there will be a big backlash against the court that spared the American people from legislation they hated. Or something like that.
6. Obama can now tell seniors he didn’t make any changes to Medicare despite its financial problems.
7. The left won’t have to defend Justice Elena Kagan’s refusal to recuse herself. If she is one of four in the minority she will have turned out to be irrelevant.
8. It will give the MSNBC talking heads something to be angry about other than Obama’s inept campaign.
As you can see, the excuses the left will cook up for the loss of their once-beloved legislation (by them, not by voters at large) are premised on the realization that the law has been both a political and policy mess for the Democrats. The process by which Obamacare was jammed through Congress (with little awareness of the details of the legislation) shielded the bill from serious scrutiny. The result was a health-care law that was expensive, poorly designed to meet its stated objectives and a drag on hiring.
There is one silver lining, an actual one for the president, although I doubt the left will want to talk about it. Take away Obamacare and a “grand bargain” or a Simpson-Bowles-like proposal becomes vastly more attainable. It was the latter’s refusal to revisit Obamacare that made it a non-starter for Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). As Ryan said in December 2010, “Obviously, I’m not going to vote for it. … Not only didn’t it address the elephant in the room, health care, it made it fatter.” Ryan explained at the time:
“I think it makes health care dramatically worse. I’m trying to be guarded in my comments because I really respect what Erskine and Alan have done. They should be commended. But they didn’t deal with health care. … You cannot fix this problem without taking on health care. This exacerbates the health care problem … it makes it worse; it accelerates and entrenches the Obama-care system, which to me is a huge step in the wrong direction. ... It takes a few steps forward on Social Security and taxes and discretionary sending but it takes many steps backwards on health care, and health care’s the big thing.”
But if Obamacare is removed from the equation, there remain “the few steps forward on Social Security and taxes and discretionary sending.” The question, if the Supreme Court does its work as conservatives hope, is whether either political party will seize the opportunity to make progress on our daunting fiscal problems.