No matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it will give part of the population heartburn.
Everybody knows that the court could: Uphold the act, reject the entire act or reject part of it.
Most people expect that the individual mandate will be struck down. It is the provision that would require everyone who can pay for insurance to do so. Those who fail to buy policies would be hit with fines or taxes at least equivalent to what their policies would have cost.
Justice Anthony Kennedy asked during the court’s hearing on the law whether it is “changing the relationship of the individual to the government?” In another part of the hearings he wanted to know whether the government can “create commerce in order to regulate it” by creating a situation where customers must buy health care coverage in order for the government to be the final arbiter of said coverage.
If the mandate is struck down, it will rip a huge chunk of the financing out of the heart of the health care law. Even if the rest of the law stands, it is hard to imagine that it can proceed as it was envisioned.
President Barack Obama didn’t get everything he wanted when he called for a national health care law, but he is forever linked to the law which is often called Obamacare.
If the law is partially or fully invalidated, many people may see it as a repudiation of Obama. Whatever amount of blame belongs to the president, millions of American voters already took out their frustrations on members of Congress in the 2010 elections, knocking off lots of Democrats who supported the act.
As President George W. Bush’s push for a two-headed war came back to haunt him and Republicans, Obama’s push for a health care law may be remembered as one of his failings, rather than an accomplishment.