Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reasons Why Obama May Not Want a Legal Fight Over Obamacare

With the announcement earlier this week of a federal court judge ruling the health care reform bill passed by Congress last year as unconstitutional, the Administration has already issued a statement they will appeal the judge's decision. At first blush, this seems like a good idea. After all, it's been one of the few legislative victories Obama has had since becoming President.

Personally, I think it would be a mistake on a few different levels.

1) It's bad law. This may come off as partisan sniping to some, but it's not. The health care reform bill as passed reached too far with too little legal standing and too many loopholes and exceptions. The federal judge's ruling and justification for it exposed the flaws in the existing law, which will make it tough for the Supreme Court to put up a legal defense of the health care bill, if they even decide to hear the case at all.

2) Obama has been exposed as weak on the issue. The longer this issue goes on, the weaker Obama appears on the issue. From the day he announced his intention to pass health care reform to the date of its passage and now with the legal challenges, Obama has not come across as a strong advocate for the measure. Instead, he came up with the idea and punted it to Congress to iron out the details. Because of his lack of leadership, his crowning jewel is possibly on the verge of being ripped away from him. The other factor along these lines is footage from the 2008 Democrat debate where Obama came out strongly against some of the provisions he signed into law. For health care reform advocates, that has to be hard to justify.

3) A loss in court undercuts Obama's legacy. Health care reform was one of the few bright spots so far in the Obama Administration, if not the brightest. There were bound to be legal challenges to it because, well, the Republicans said there would be. Having said that, the Obama team should have been better prepared for the challenge because of the political implications of a loss at the Supreme Court level. If the USSC refuses to hear the case or takes on the case and rules against the Administration, it strips away Obama's major policy initiative, which leaves nothing much left to hang his hat on for reelection.

4) This one can't be blamed on the Republicans. For as much as Democrats love to paint the GOP as the "party of NO," they held majorities in both houses of Congress and utilized that power to pass the health care reform bill as written. Republicans had little to no influence on the bill itself. That means any failure, legal or otherwise, is on their heads. Forcing a court battle will only bring that fact further to light. Good intentions with bad form don't mean anything in the end, and simply screaming about the "party of NO" won't change reality. This is on Democrats' heads.

And finally...

5) Dissing Supreme Court Justices isn't exactly the best way to get them to rule in your favor.

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