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May 5, 2015

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How a loss on health care might affect President Obama’s reelection chances

One of the problems for President Barack Obama’s re-election effort is his presidency has so far resulted in few accomplishments that really excite his base.

He took office amid sky-high expectation from Democrats who believed he, and the Democrats controlling both houses of Congress, would be able to move an agenda that had been on hold for the eight years of the Bush presidency.

The reality of governing, coupled with a near economic collapse, quickly deflated those expectations.

But through it all, Obama managed to pass a sweeping health care law. The law fell short of liberals’ hopes — no single-payer system, no truly universal coverage — but there was still a law that could be built upon.

The legislation has become a rallying cry for the Democratic base and the Obama campaign has worked hard to promote its most popular elements — coverage of pre-existing conditions, prescription drug assistance for senior citizens, longer coverage for younger adults on their parents’ insurance plans.

What happens, however, if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the law?

“I think my head would explode,” progressive activist Neera Tanden told the Atlantic earlier this week.

Former presidential candidate Howard Dean, who campaigned hard for health care reform 12 years ago, echoed Tanden’s sentiment.

“If the whole thing goes down, I think it’s pretty tough for the president,” he told the Atlantic.

But, in what might be a cynical read of that hypothetical, a conservative court overturning the health care law could fan the flames of what so far has been only a smoldering enthusiasm among the liberal base.

“For Obama, this was his signature law,” said Erin Neff, a progressive activist in Las Vegas. “He’s tied his re-election to the Affordable Care Act in many ways. If you look at what happened since he took office, we got this and nothing else. The backlash would be against the conservative justices. The backlash would be against the corporations.”

The liberal base is already primed for a fight against conservative justices.

For years, Republicans have largely won the public opinion tug-of-war when it comes to the judicial branch, railing against so-called “activist judges.”

But the Supreme Court is now controlled by five conservative justices. They ushered through the Citizens United case that freed corporations to spend unlimited money to influence elections. That has riled the liberal base. Add to that a gutting of the health care law?

“If they were to strike the whole thing down, that could have a very compelling organizational impact on our base,” Neff said. “We would be raising money the second it happen. Our bank account would flood, our people would be pissed and would organize protests the likes of which we haven’t seen.”

Jan Gilbert, a lobbyist for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, had a similar take.

“If they’re all thrown out, I think you are going to have a bit of a revolt by people who have been getting more help with prescription drugs, the rural clinics, with the children,” Gilbert said. “I just don’t think they’re going to throw it out. It would really be destructive to our health care system.”

Gilbert added the liberal base would remain resilient.

“If the whole thing is thrown out, I guess we’ll have to start from scratch and do it again,” she said.

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  1. Enjoyed the article, but I read something different if the outcome shoots down the Affordable Care Act.

    Most people will see that it will be confirmed the U.S. Supreme Court pursued this for political purposes only.

    They will see that efforts to fix the "donut hole" were discarded; preferring to run down the "rabbit hole" and go back to the previous "pre-existing conditions," rising costs of health care and predatory license given for the health care insurers to run hog wild with rising costs of premiums.

    I agree with the last commenter on the article.

    We go back to the drawing board and start over again.

    President Obama for another four years. AND a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate.

    The Party of No needs to be slapped out of power. And slapped hard by our votes. They have failed all of us.

    People in Nevada ain't got time for this nonsense. Peoples' lives, health, well-being and safety are all in jeopardy. We could care less about the Tea/Republican mandate to constantly feed the insatiable greed of the filthy rich all the time.

    I'm voting all of them bums out regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court does.

    I'm sick and tired of the silly propaganda games to snow the American people that only lead to serving the one percenters.

    THEY don't run this country. WE, the average American people, do.

  2. If the individual mandate is struck down, but the rest is left in place, then I expect to see a 6 - 3 decision doing so, with Justice Breyer voting with the conservatives on the Commerce Clause issue. The Commerce Clause has been twisted beyond all recognition and this gives the Court the chance to back off from earlier decisions without reversing itself. This will become very important in the future for medical pot, among other reasons.

    If the entire bill is thrown out then I expect it to be a 5 - 4 decision.

    In either event, there is going to be a backlash, not at SCOTUS, but at President Obama, and even more at Harry Reid, for not doing the job right. If they had used a public option instead of the mandate this entire issue could never have come up.

    There are several good things in the bill for health *insurance* reform, but NONE of them addresses health *care* reform. Simply put, the Democrats screwed the pooch on this bill when they had a chance to do it right.

  3. The Supremes under Roberts have made a travesty of the judicial branch of government. They now have chosen to be the third branch of legislative power in our "separate but equal" three tier form of government. There is at least one justice on the court that needs to be investigated/impeached, but it probably won't happen. The court has already "ruled", but the citizens of this country must now wait until June for their "ruling". Gore v. Bush, Citizens United, and now health care: all legislated from the bench. Does anyone think that this is impartial constitutional law at work? "Mandates" are nothing new. One such mandate, already in effect, is the Medicare payroll tax. Is a so called "mandate" to make everyone purchase some form of medical insurance any different?

  4. Yep, partisans see evil where none lurks.

  5. Re Malous. "Yep, partisans see evil where none lurks". Explain.

  6. Partisans on both sides routinely demonize their opponents. They must see and demagogue on the other side's evil to continue the passionate minority partisan debate about relatively meaningless social issues.

    Those that are passionately for the bill see an evil conspiracy to stop the bill. Those that are passionately against the bill see an evil conspiracy to ensure the bill go forward. Both side's partisans demagogue the situation's supposed disastrous effects to assure that their followers see the perceived evil of the SCOTUS decision if it counters their own plans/intents.

    Now we see tired speculation on how the SCOTUS decision will affect the President's election chances.

    In reality, the choir on the right and the choir on the left will not change their minds no matter what the decision is. The middle grounders already either like or dislike the bill and it's effects but I doubt it has much weight in deciding their vote. The majority of middle ground voters have other very real (often economic) concerns which guide their votes.

    A very few voters may change their minds based on the SCOTUS decision but not many. I doubt the inside ball of the decision itself will have much effect either way on the election. Regardless of the loud partisan campaign ads which will follow.

    Partisans will continue to manufacture and demagogue the supposed evil on their opponents parts. This will continue to give each side cover for their part in the ongoing partisan train wreck in Washington. Without evil to oppose, partisans would soon run out of narrative, and have to actually address the real business of the country.

  7. For two centuries the Supreme Court has been the final arbiter of how the balance of powers are exercised within American government. The Court has made terrible decisions (Dred Scott v. Sandford) and subsequently overturned its own precedent.

    A very expansive interpretation of the Constitution -- something fully admitted by the Obama Administration's Solicitor General in his testimony before the Court -- is at stake. Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid believe deeply in this view of the power of the Federal Government and those in Congress to impose it.

    If it's struck down, sour grapes on the political "left" will scream bloody murder that they've been hog-tied by the Roberts Court. Not so.

    A rejection of the Personal Mandate to buy insurance should be read as:
    (1) Obama/Reid/Pelosi's vision of the expansive power of centralized Federal government will have been deemed Unconstitutional enough to convince a majority of the most important court in the world to decide as much;
    (2) The grand Obama experiment in government assuming a larger and larger share of the American economy will have been dealt a serious blow; and
    (3) We will STILL have a massive problem as a country spending way too much on health care, with too many uninsured, and too much waste....consuming trillions of American dollars.

    Governor Romney may soon be in the position of needing to bring forward an alternative, Republican vision of how to solve this problem. Perhaps it is on a State by State basis where each of the 50 States crafts a solution appropriate for their situation. Perhaps it will be a version of Paul Ryan's model of a market-based focus on purchasing health care. Whatever it is, Romney will not have a lot of time to play around with this.

    When Governor Romney presents a compelling alternative the American people can understand, it might mean "lights out" for the administration. And what was once deemed Romney's big "albatross" can become his most potent weapon of insuring this is a one term Presidency for the Democratic left who pines for bigger and bigger government for all.

    And my bet is the law is going to get slammed 6 - 3 with the Obamacare Personal Mandate viewed as deeply flawed and rejected as unconstitutional.

  8. Americans need affordable health care that doesn't deny them due to 'preexisting conditions.' Somehow this noble attempt to address the plight of most Americans is nothing more than a political reelection tool (as the DREAM ACT), than a real possibility for Citizens. I am willing to bet that within the 3,000 pages of the act, it is riddled with the marks and scars of crony bribes, earmarks, backroom deals, that hasn't seen the light of day!

    This act is so poorly crafted and massive that literally few Representatives read in its entirety before voting and passing it.


    We are witnessing a historic Dark Age in our American political system. Endless political gridlock, corruption, and cronyism. Bye Bye Miss America Pie.

    Blessings and Peace,

  9. Jim I find your posts first line not only off topic but inaccurate. The rest is overblown. Partisans will not change their minds over this situation as their minds are firmly made up. Moderates will not change their minds based on only this one factor.

    Moderates make up the majority of potentially undecided or changeable votes in this election. Their big concern is the continuing lack of jobs and a lower standard of living and the lack of usable money for those out of work/underemployed. I think my 2nd post shows the situation exactly.

    Star you are right. But the govt solved this in regard to renal failure already by simply giving all renal patients who are in dialysis medicare. That is the simplest and most elegant solution to the problem you noted. Any fatal illness results in medicare.

    We are not in the dark age dear this is business as usual magnified by partisanship out of control of a nature not seen since 1859. In this case the leaders of both parties are as set in their ways as Jeff Davis was in his opinions and practices.

  10. Polls continue to state that the majority of undecided voters are moderates. This is how moderates and independents react historically also. The hard corp of each side's partisan voters will not (as usual) be changing their minds at the last moment.

    Moderates do not respond as readily to one hot button issue as partisans might. Issues that partisans find not useful, often interest moderates.

    For example, the partisans on one side or the other of an election cycle may want to use false negatives or false positives or ignore the facts of the economy. Moderates may find the economy compelling as a voting issue and then increasingly ignore the partisan comments when they see the contradictions in the narrative versus the actual situation they are living.

    So this one issue will not swing the majority of moderates one way or another. The WSJ says Obama has about half the moderates right now but this can change as the primary season ends and the actual campaign begins.

    Also in Carter's "surprise" trouncing by Reagan, moderates and independents surprised the media who were relying on their own push polls. In effect the media can begin to listen to their own fabricated narrative. They, of course, deny using push polls but their use is pretty well entrenched in the partisan media's historic toolbox. The moderates and independents in that election did not vote the way the polls clearly said they would. A confident media was shocked.

    And, as my old Statistic's teacher taught me, those who are not passionate about a subject are more likely to give a false positive (incorrect) result in push polling. This is basic statistics. This is because they hold less set convictions and react less violently to the devious push poll technique. They may say yes when they really mean maybe.

    Of course, YMMV.