What’s the best part of this? The idea of a prominent Democrat interrupting his party’s Mediscare demagoguery to scold the right on increasing health-care costs for seniors? The fact that he thinks ObamaCare, which isn’t even defended as a cost-saving measure anymore, will effectively bend the curve on that? Or his palpable annoyance at the notion that enumerated powers might throw up a constitutional roadblock to something progressives really, really, really want to do?
But never mind that. Is he right? He’s unquestionably right on how the left will spin the aftermath of the mandate being dumped: They tried, now it’s the right’s turn. Hope the GOP’s ready. Let me rephrase his question slightly, though, and ask whether an adverse ruling would also be the best thing to happen to Obama, specifically. On the one hand, it would be an enormous humiliation to have his signature domestic “achievement” repudiated as an unconstitutional power grab. That’s one of the reasons that righties are so excited to see the mandate tossed. Once O-Care is gone, what’s left of Hopenchange except high unemployment and mind-boggling debt? Killing Bin Laden is awesome but if that’s all he has to point to in November, he’s done.
Would that humiliation cost him any votes, though? Or would it actually gain him votes by sending the left into a frenzy of utopian outrage? Obama could tell them, quite correctly, that the difference between universal health care and the status quo turned out to be one Supreme Court appointment. If they want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, it’s imperative that he be reelected. That’s a compelling pitch, much more so than clean coal or high-speed rail or whatever the hell he’s planning to talk about on the trail. And not only does he gain votes, he gains the right to do something that he loves loves loves doing — namely, passing the buck. The public hates the mandate and they’re going to hate the horrendous cost of this giant clusterfark once it goes into effect in two years. But once it’s gone, O doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. He can dress the program up rhetorically in all manner of “what might have been” nonsense — it would have lowered costs and there would have been no rationing and the whole thing would have been totally amazing — and use the comparison to bludgeon whatever Republican alternative plan emerges. In other words, losing O-Care would be a momentary embarrassment that just might get him reelected by turning out his base and would spare him the much greater embarrassment of watching this boondoggle melt down in the years to come. Hey, maybe that’s why Verrilli’s argument was so bad today. Dude, they’re throwing the fight. (Kidding, kidding.)