My wife, an attorney and avid SCOTUS watcher, was the only person I knew who thought Obama’s healthcare law wouldn’t be at least partially overturned. I don’t watch the court very carefully but assumed, fatal error, that the vast majority of Washington pundits were unlikely to be wrong. Whenever I found a lonely pundit who agreed with her (I think SCOTUS Blog’s Tom Goldstein was the only one) I took some pleasure in telling my wife. But I was pretty sure she would be wrong.
Well, good for Margaret Liu McConnell.
About the substance, it’s too complicated for non-experts, which is definitely my cohort. About the politics, opinions come easier. We all know there was a GOP president and Congressional majority for six years and nothing was done or even attempted about rapidly rising healthcare prices. With his two-year House majority, Obama tried to address a major national problem. At least he made the frigging effort.
It also seems pretty obvious that healthcare is a far better playing field for Obama than “the economy” over the next four months — he having virtually no control over the economy. But he can watch the Republicans go rabid– and mock them, and that can be the basis of a successful campaign. For example (h/t Andrew Sullivan), here is young rightist, Ben Shapiro, who tweeted
This is the greatest destruction of individual liberty since Dred Scott. This is the end of America as we know it. No exaggeration.
My how it requires such prudence and measured judgement to be a conservative pundit these days!
At CPAC, I heard my old friend Ann Coulter make a very smart argument for federalism, explaining that a federal system meant it was fine for Romney to experiment with a healthcare mandate in liberal Massachusetts, but that didn’t mean it was okay for the country. I agreed with Ann (who actually does know quite a bit about the Constitution). But I doubt that the “federalism” argument will work very well on the campaign trail, or that Romney can be an effective tribune for repeal of a healthcare bill based on exactly the same ideas as the one he created. So in important ways — putting healthcare front and center, disaggregating Romney from his right-wing base — the ruling is a huge political win for Obama.
About content, well this seems pretty obvious: the country took a big step back from its current dominant trend. For the past generation, every single significant political and economic battle has been won by the rich at the expense of the middle class and poor. Whether the underlying cause of the trend is globalization, immigration, or technological change in whatever combination — we all know the rich have gotten richer, the non-rich poorer. This prevailing wind is the opposite of that which dominated from 1932-1980 or so. The current wind won’t be easily shifted and a liberal healthcare law certainly won’t do it. But it’s nice to see heavy favorites lose once in a while.