Arguments before the Supreme Court on ObamaCare ended today, with pundits pondering the tea leaves. Or chicken entrails, if that suits you…
If the individual mandate is found unconstitutional (admittedly, big “if”), I predict that the Court will return the health care bill to Congress to fix what remains without that mandate*.
They would likely do this firstly because it is the least radical (speaking judicially, not politically) approach to defer to the legislative branch on fixing the law.
This would be the ultimate nightmare for Obama’s re-election campaign. This is his signature “achievement.” Since it’s rather unpopular, the last thing Obama would want is the heated debates of early 2010 repeated just before the presidential election.
As for the chances that Son of ObamaCare might have in Congress? Since the law becomes incoherent without the mandate, there is no quick fix. The entire bill, all 2,700 pages of turgid bureaucracy would have to be re-visited. And read this time before being passed.
Son of ObamaCare would die a quick death in the House; it was forced through without Republican support. What about the Senate, which remains in the hands of Democrats? Even in the Senate, it’s hard to imagine any Democrats up for re-election this year investing political capital on it.
This leaves Obama and congressional Democrats two options: introduce a single-payer scheme (the polite name for socialized medicine, and Obama’s desiderata), or propose new tax revenues to make up the shortfall without the mandate. Either approach would not even get out of committee this year.
If Obama wins re-election, and the House is turned back to the Democrats, and the Senate stays Democrat, these things might re-surface next year.
Might. I suspect not, and the threat of either might be all it takes to turn the Senate over to Republicans and keep the House Republican. As for Obama’s chances, I trust he’s clever enough to not talk about his true intentions to socialize medicine.
*If the Supremes don’t return the wretched thing to Congress after striking down the mandate, it will be because the whole thing will be found unconstitutional. And I’ll be a happy camper.