(New York, NY) This is a HUGE week! For those who follow politics, you know why.
For the rest of you, let me put it in perspective: This news is bigger than Snooki getting pregnant or Justin Bieber beating up a member of the paparazzi. It's even bigger than the finale of “Dancing with the Stars” and “The Biggest Loser”-- combined!
This week, the United States Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of the Affordable Health Care Act- also known “affectionately” as Obamacare.
Will the law be upheld or will it be struck down in whole or in part? It’s like trying to guess the identity of the person Kim Kardashian will marry next (and then quickly divorce)--everyone has an opinion and there are no wrong answers. (My view is that the Supreme Court will uphold the law, deferring to Congress, thus allowing the issue to be resolved in the political arena.)
To me, the most intriguing part of this impending decision is its political implications. The prevailing wisdom – if “wisdom” is even a word that can be applied to anything involving our politics today –is that if the Supreme Court strikes down the law, it will be a big blow to President Obama and will negatively impact his reelection campaign. I completely disagree.
Even though this law is President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, it’s very unpopular. Recent polls indicate that only one third of Americans support it and, worse yet for Obama, only 21% of Independents.
Mitt Romney views the law as such a liability for Obama that he made it a central part of his very first campaign commercial after effectively securing the Republican nomination. In this ad, Romney sets out what he would do “Day One” of his presidency, which includes his boast that he would dismantle Obamacare. In contrast, if I were elected President, on my first day in office, I’d be more focused on picking out the best closets in the White House and locating the good Chinese restaurants in the area.
But if the Supreme Court strikes it down, it pulls the rug out from under Romney on this line of attack. Can Romney truly hope to attract voters by saying: “Remember that health care law we didn't like, well if it was still in effect, I would get rid of it.” It would be like “Captain America” coming to save us from a monster that has already been killed by “The Hulk.”
While that doesn't help Romney's campaign, he arguably an has even bigger problem if the Supreme Court finds this law unconstitutional. Romney has claimed that if Obama is reelected, he will be: “unrestrained by the demands of re-election,” meaning Obama can run amuck and do whatever he wants in his second term. Who knows what Obama might try: Ban guns? Impose communism? Force straight people to marry gay people?
However, the Supreme Court striking down Obamacare undercuts this fear tactic by Romney because it proves that the checks and balances enshrined in our Constitution work. If one branch goes too far, another branch will rein them. This is the express purpose of having three branches of government--it creates a checks and balance system to avoid tyranny as James Madison famously stated in The Federalist Papers.
If the healthcare law and the "Fear factor" Romney is peddling regarding Obama are gone, guess what he's stuck with running on: The economy. While that may sound appealing, it isn't--not only because when Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, his State was 47th in job creation--but because as a new poll released this week found, almost 60% of Americans believe that the President has little impact on job creation. We are now collectively grasping that issues beyond the President's control--such as the European economic crisis and oil prices--greatly impact our economic well being.
Bottom line: Mitt Romney has to be rooting for the Supreme Court to uphold the health care law and especially the unpopular individual mandate portion. (Which ironically is the same mandate Romney championed in Massachusetts when he was Governor.)
In any event, a recent poll found that 77% of Americans want Congress to start work on a new health care bill if this law is struck down. Meaning that this issue is not going away even if the court strikes it down. Perhaps striking it down gives Obama another shot a health care law that will be effective and popular with the American people. (And if the Court upholds the law, President Obama needs to start better explaining the positive aspects of the law so that we are all better informed on the full scope of this law--as of now, the negative voices are driving the narrative despite polls showing a solid majority of Americans support many key parts of the law.)
So America, set your DVR's and invite your friends over to watch the US Supreme Court announce the decision of the decade live on TV! Oh yeah, you can’t watch it live on TV because the US Supreme Court won’t let cameras in. Parenthetically I think this is a mistake – I could envision a new popular reality TV series: “The Real Judges of the Supreme Court.”
If the health care law is struck down this week, President Obama will undoubtedly be disappointed. But watch Mitt Romney ‘s response closely to see if you can detect if he, too, is unhappy. He should be.