Check out this video.

The hottest ticket in town these days is for the June title game at Supreme Stadium. That’s when the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is taken up by the nation’s highest court. Word has it that seats in the Court’s gallery are going fast.

To most people, Obamacare has been a puzzle on many levels for the entirety of its existence. It has been vaguely described as “Universal health Care,” with the implication that the US Government is henceforth going to provide “free” healthcare to everyone, for their entire lives.

Really? But isn’t the most controversial aspect of the Act the clause that mandates individuals buy health insurance? Isn’t the “mandate” the part of the law that is being challenged on Constitutional grounds, the thought being that it violates some commerce-related law stating that Government cannot compel individuals to take part in a purchase transaction (“commerce”) against their will?

And what will be employers’ part in all this? Will they still continue to offer health care coverage to their employees as part of their benefits package? Will certain smaller-sized employers be exempt from that from now on? Will the Government fine those employers who don’t offer coverage or otherwise don’t comply with the admittedly Byzantine rules of the new 2700-page! act?

All of which begs the larger question: Exactly what does the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act entail? Who’s covered? And by whom—the Government or private insurers? For how much? What are the levels and duration of the coverage? What happens if an individual elects not to buy health insurance?

When asked by someone during the Act’s debate phase what was contained in the new bill, Nancy Pelosi (then Speaker of the House) famously answered, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.” It’s since passed; no one seems to know what it means, and so much of it is open-ended and unspecified that there appears to be ample room for its implementation to be of the “make it up as you go along” variety.

The inexact, imprecise, totally amorphous nature of Obamacare has led to a feeling of public discomfort with the bill. In spite of the inability of most people to define with certitude the explicit details of the law with which they’re uncomfortable, there seems to be a general undercurrent that Government involvement on so large a scale, in such a critically-important and personal area, can’t lead to a betterment in the quality of peoples’ day-to-day lives. Only inefficiency, exasperation and frustration can result from this, say the 67% of people opposed to Obamacare in a recent poll.

From a political standpoint, what is the preferred outcome of the Court’s decision? Those adamantly opposed to O’Care want it repealed under any circumstances, regardless of the political implications. A Court ruling that the mandate is unconstitutional guts Obamacare and renders its main thrust—compelling everyone to buy insurance— meaningless. For this faction, that’s all that matters: strike it down.

For the President, a case can be made that either way is good. Uphold the Act, and his efforts to introduce such sweeping legislation are vindicated. His 2008 campaign promise to “fundamentally transform America’ is largely fulfilled. Strike down the mandate, and the Act’s re-introduction and complete passage become a strong, central rallying cry to his supporters: “You must come out in huge numbers and support us, so we can finish what we’ve started and get everyone the coverage I promised and that you deserve. It’s your birthright; it’s not a privilege for the wealthy few.”

For the Republican nominee, a similar double-sided case is there: Strike down the Act now, and Obamacare is effectively over. That means the time-bomb national debt disaster is defused so the country can meet its obligations to our seniors and retirees, both of whose Government entitlement programs would have been defunded and scuttled with the diversion of revenues to an out-of-control Government health care program. It also means that income and capital gains taxes don’t have to rise to pay for a program that could never be paid for. In short, without Obamacare, we have a shot at not becoming Greece and a shot at a solid future for your children. With Obamacare, we’re doomed. If O’Care is upheld, then its existence becomes the Republicans’ rallying cry: Elect us and we’ll repeal it, so the country can survive.

The Court’s decision—coming just before the election—will indeed be a highly-watched affair, and will surely put spinmeisters on both sides to perhaps their sternest test ever, with stakes never higher.

Comments