Damned if they do…
Click here to listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, June 25, 2012.
Proof that it isn’t 2008 will come for the Obama campaign as early as this morning. In one of the most watched Supreme Court cases in decades, the justices will decide if all or part of the Affordable Care Act, AKA “Obamacare,” is unconstitutional.
There has not been, in recent memory, a high court decision of such magnitude handed down in the thick of a presidential campaign and the decision has a huge impact on the campaign whichever way it goes.
Anticipating that the president’s signal legislative accomplishment might be overturned, Democrats are already spinning the idea that if the court does strike the law down, it will help the president’s re-election bid by energizing the party’s liberal base.
I believe that the president is in the unpleasant position of being damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
If the law is struck down, it will be a stark repudiation of the president’s signature legislative accomplishment – something to which he devoted substantially all of his attention during his first term, to the exclusion of such things as a sagging economy. If the court overturns the law, it will render much of the president’s first term a nullity. Further, it will put real meat on the bones of the arguments being made by Republicans that the president is prone to overreach and will, given any opportunity, expand the government beyond its constitutional limits.
If, however, the law is allowed to stand, it remains deeply unpopular. Democrat hopes that the law would become more popular with the passage of time have not come to fruition. If the court allows Obamacare to stay on the books, it will serve as a sharp focal point around which Republicans will rally independents and centrist Democrats who voted for Obama in 2008 but are deeply unhappy about the governmental overreach that they see in the Affordable Care Act.
If Obamacare stands, rather than claim victory, Democrats will have to run from it. The fact that President Obama himself never brings the law up in campaign speeches is evidence of its toxicity on the stump.
The survival of Obamacare, should that occur, puts the Democrats on defense against a relentless campaign against it by Republicans.
In either case, the GOP will use the occasion of the high court’s decision on Obamacare to point out that as many as three Supreme Court justices could be appointed in the next presidential term.
That the fate of fully one sixth of the U.S. economy has been given over to the ruminations of just nine out of 310 million Americans is something that many swing voters are sure to notice.
Simply put, as it pertains to the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare there may literally be no way that the Obama campaign can win