President Obama’s celebration of the Supreme Court’s decision on his signature healthcare law could prove short-lived. The fact remains that the majority of Americans do not approve of Obamacare and would like to see it repealed.
The court’s green flag of the bill will energize Republicans, the Tea Party, and others who deplore the law’s overreach. Moreover, President Obama will have to explain to voters why he has imposed a tax – which is how the Supreme Court has described the mandate to buy health insurance – on the middle class. Of the many promises broken by this White House – surely choosing to raise taxes on average earners is the most egregious.
Perhaps most costly to President Obama is the loss of a rallying point. In recent weeks he has lashed out at the Supreme Court, creating yet another target for his political wrath. Hobbled by poor leadership, this White House chooses to play victim – George W. Bush is to blame for the economy, Congress is obdurate, Europe undermines our recovery, businesses refuse to play ball, an obtuse public simply will not understand its policies. The next chapter pitted a beleaguered president, who is earnestly doing “the right thing,” against an activist and ideologically opposed Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the GOP faced the possibility of a backlash in the event that the Supreme Court overturned Obamacare. Voters may not like the healthcare bill (and they emphatically do not) but they also want due process. More important, Republicans need to keep the campaign focused on the economy. They need to remind voters that instead of spending his time and political capital creating jobs and stoking the recovery, the president wandered off into the political desert of healthcare reform, searching for a legacy. Mitt Romney needs to sell the country on a simple, solid, private sector- focused plan for rebooting growth.
Mr. Obama now owns his healthcare bill. As the increased fees and costs rain down on Americans going forward, as waiting times to see doctors lengthen, insurance premiums rise for the private sector, Medicare benefits are cut and small businesses struggle to meet new demands, they can hold him accountable. As 4 million Americans (the current estimate) lose their private coverage in the next two years, while 17 million others are added to the Medicaid rolls, they can blame Mr. Obama.
This is not a good bill, and it was sold to Americans dishonestly. Instead of Obama’s claim that the bill would cost $900 billion over a decade, the most recent CBO figures put the cost at $1.76 trillion. That’s not a rounding error- that’s a massive distortion. The so-called “doc fix” and other measures that sugar-coated the financial impact of this bill (mainly the staggered implementation of the bill where costs trailed revenues) were always a fraud. When the bill actually began to bite, which might have caused an even greater backlash, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services Department handed out over 1,300 waivers – more than half of which benefited union plans.
The general premise – that we could provide free medical care for 30 million people and not blow out the deficit – was completely dishonest. The reason that only one third of the country supports this bill isn’t because it hasn’t been explained well—as liberals suggest -- they are against it because it is a terrible piece of legislation. However, the real cost of this bill is that it paralyzed the country at a delicate point in our recovery, distracted our legislators, upset our businesses and divided our populace.
The fight over Obama’s healthcare bill has not been resolved by the Supreme Court; no decision could have pacified its adversaries. However, in upholding the government’s right to promulgate such intrusive and unpopular legislation, the Supreme Court has just waved a red flag in front of those who champion individual liberties. They have also alerted Americans just how dangerous Big Government advocates like President Obama can be.
That message will resound with conservatives but also with independents – those who will determine the outcome of the elections in November. In December, a near-record 64 percent of Americans told Gallup they considered Big Government the biggest threat to the country. They are correct.