With it a near certainty that sometime Thursday morning we will finally know whether the Supreme Court will strike down the Affordable Care Act, the political parties have spent much of this week pondering what they will do in the event the president’s signature legislation is ruled unconstitutional. The Democrats are fairly certain of their course of action if their side loses tomorrow. They will attack the Court and the GOP while attempting to change the narrative of the issue from one about a government power grab to the plight of the uninsured. Republicans are less certain; as the putative victors in the controversy, their inclination may be to sit back and gloat.
As Politico reports today, congressional Republicans have no plans to respond to the downfall of ObamaCare with legislation aimed at filling in the gap if the president’s plan goes down, even if it means allowing some of the more popular provisions in a profoundly unpopular bill are lost with the rest of the plan. While doing nothing may be dangerous as it risks losing the initiative to the left, the thinking here is they are right to pass on getting bogged down this year on an alternative. But a refusal to try to push through a new bill shouldn’t be confused with passivity. Conservatives must be ready to start pushing back against the left’s attempt to demonize the Court or allow them to make the public forget the issue here isn’t sympathy for the poor but the defense of liberty.
As Politico notes this morning, many of the groups that led the fight against ObamaCare are preparing to party next week. Though all say they understand there is no way of knowing what the Supreme Court will do when it finally issues its ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, most of the foes of President Obama’s signature legislation are fairly bursting with optimism about the decision. Their glee at the impending demise of a deeply unpopular bill is matched by the gloom of the president’s supporters, who are already plotting their revenge on conservatives by preparing to spend the next four months complaining about the way the Court will have thwarted the will of the legislature.
In this respect, the left has an advantage, because while they have no more idea of what the Court will do than the right, they do seem to have a plan. That’s why conservatives should not be spending the last days before the Court’s announcement getting ready to party. If the Court overturns ObamaCare, its opponents must be prepared for a political battle that will be just as important as the one they have already fought and perhaps won. The wind can change pretty quickly in politics, and if ObamaCare’s detractors allow liberals to seize the initiative in the next few days, they may spend the next few years regretting the way Democrats got control of the health care narrative. If the president and his backers are able to change the conversation from one about constitutional usurpation and big government control of health care back to their favorite themes of the plight of the uninsured, rapacious insurance companies, it could not only affect the outcome of the presidential election but also set the stage for future debates on the issue that may not go as well for the right.