Pages: 1 2
That said, the Obama administration still may see Obamacare as a useful part of its class warfare campaign. The narrative of a conservative Supreme Court potentially striking down a social justice public policy initiative passed by Congress to presumably help millions of Americans obtain affordable health insurance fits into this narrative. It is one means of galvanizing the campaign’s political base on the Left, which supports Obamacare. If the Supreme Court does decide to strike down Obamacare, in whole or in part, the administration will make replacing the “regressive, out-of-touch” conservative court majority a campaign issue.
On the other hand, if the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, with Justice Anthony Kennedy voting in favor as the deciding swing vote, the Obama campaign will do a victory lap. It may well be counting on swaying Justice Kennedy, who believes in using international law as a reference point for interpreting the U.S. Constitution. An argument they may use to sway Justice Kennedy is that Congress’ policy determination to expand affordable health care brings the United States closer to other developed countries’ recognition of the human rights dimension of universal health care. During her Senate confirmation hearings to become U.S. Solicitor General, Elena Kagan (now a justice on the Supreme Court herself) laid out this precise strategy regarding the use of foreign law to persuade wavering justices: “At least some members of the Court find foreign law relevant in at least some contexts. When this is the case, I think the Solicitor General’s office should offer reasonable foreign law arguments to attract these Justices’ support for the positions that the office is taking.”
However, if the Obama administration is trying to turn Obamacare into a political wedge issue, its strategy may well backfire. It could have the counter-effect of further galvanizing the Republican base if Obamacare is ruled constitutional. Even if the Supreme Court simply hears oral arguments, but delays a decision until after the election, the Obama administration’s well-publicized defense of the law will be seen by Obamacare’s opponents as rubbing salt in the wound.
The Obama campaign may believe its vigorous defense of Obamacare will appeal to its own base, which Obama is trying to energize any way he can. However, while throwing red meat to the base on the Left would be a good strategy for primaries, if Obama were facing a serious challenge from the Left, it is not a wise course for the Obama administration to follow during the general election campaign. The independents Obama needs to reach are on the other side of the issue. A recent Rasmussen poll of likely independent voters, reported on September 19, 2011, shows that, by a margin of 53 to 32 percent, independents support the repeal of Obamacare. Overall, 56% of likely U.S. voters want Obamacare repealed.
Americans see their insurance premiums going up and the costs to the government of implementing Obamacare ballooning. Patients and their doctors are unhappy with the burdens imposed on the patient-doctor relationship by government meddling, which is symptomatic of the dissatisfaction that a record-high 81% of Americans have with the way the country is being governed, according to the most recent Gallup poll. Forty-nine percent of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens.
In short, if the Obama administration intends to inject the Supreme Court into the debate over Obamacare next year and to politicize any Supreme Court decision finding Obamacare unconstitutional, its political calculations may turn out to be as ill-advised as its policy prescriptions.
Pages: 1 2