The Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling handed down on Thursday, upheld President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four left-leaning justices in making the decision that Obamacare is constitutional. In a 5-4 decision, not only has the high court allowed one of the biggest overhauls of the health care system since the 1960s, but they have also redefined the upcoming presidential election.
The election is no longer just about picking the next president of the United States. It now represents America’s feelings on Obamacare. It’s a yes-no decision. Keep Obamacare or repeal it. This is what voters must decide in November.
A Win-Win Situation
Both Democrats and Republicans can claim a win from The Supreme Court’s decision. The issue has been kept alive by the high court for Republicans, whose staple argument against President Obama is his health care bill. Republicans can continue to attack him for pushing a product down the throats of Americans and for running up a huge tab while he’s at it. They can remind the American people that with a Democratic-controlled Congress, President Obama failed to focus on job creation and pushed the health care bill over a jobs bill. This decision has now given conservatives some extra fuel to their fire to replace Democrats in the Senate. They smell repeal and they are going to go after it.
President Obama and Democrats can also claim a huge win from the decision. He beat out the naysayers. He won the battle. President Obama’s name will forever be associated with health care reform—with providing health care to over 30 million previously uninsured people. He may win the election if he can convince voters that he has the best intentions for the American people, and that Gov. Romney, by wanting to repeal the law, does not.
The Argument: Good Service, But it Ain’t Cheap
The Affordable Care Act will make insurance available to millions of people who are currently uninsured. It will insure millions of young adults through a combination of Medicaid, tax credits and by giving them until age 26 to get off their parents’ insurance plan. Obamacare will allow currently uninsured people with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance. It will also help cash-strapped businesses, solo entrepreneurs and one person corporations get lower health care premiums through state exchanges and more tax credits.
All that is fantastic, but Obamacare is not free. The federal government is set to spend more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years to subsidize coverage and to expand eligibility for Medicaid. Most Americans nearly have a heart attack when they have to fork over just $1,000 for a service like getting the car fixed. No wonder so many Americans are resistant to Obamacare. Americans are the ones taking the hit for that $1 trillion through a slew of tax cuts in federal health care spending, as well as a number of taxes, fees and penalties.
Haven’t Voters Seen This Before?
The Supreme Court decision brings the whole argument back around to two issues that voter had heard before: spending and taxes. According to Justice Roberts, it’s a tax issue. The individual mandate is constitution because of Congress’ ability to levy taxes. Conservatives want to lower taxes and liberals want to raise taxes. Under Obamacare, those who would help foot the huge bill via taxes would be high-income earners and—oddly enough—tanners. It’s the same spending vs. cutting/taxing the rich vs. cutting taxes for corporations argument but in the context of health care.
The Real Decision
According to a Fox News poll, 60% of voters feel that forcing Americans to buy health insurance is a violation of individual rights. Only 36% disagreed. The true test on how Americans feel will be in November.
The Supreme Court has provided clarity on the issue—it is constitutional—but now it is up to the U.S. electorate to decide if it should be repealed by their elected representatives or not.