Could Obamacare become Obi-Wan Kenobi?
Liberals will be charged up against the Court, though also more despondent that winning an election matters. Meanwhile, the ruling would be a powerful confirmation to swing voters of the central Republican indictment of Obama. See how far his big government plans went? So far that the Supreme Court said they violated the Constitution! The prospect of handing Mitt Romney the chance to attach the epithet “unconstitutional!” to his opponent would seem to overwhelm any potential benefit.
A somewhat more plausible source of comfort is the prospect that, with the moderate, Republican-designed plan now off the table, Democrats can focus on the one remaining legal avenue to solve the health-care crisis: a single-payer system, like Medicare. This is sort of the liberal Obi-Wan Kenobi option:
In assessing this option, it’s worth bearing in mind that the dead Obi-Wan did not, in fact, become more powerful than Darth Vader could possibly imagine. His new powers seemed limited to appearing as an apparition offering inscrutable advice to Luke Skywalker, whereas the previous, alive version featured the power to slice people’s arms off with a light saber.
So liberals definitely don’t want the Supreme Court to strike down the law. If the Court strikes down just the individual mandate, the best option is to find a way to patch up that feature over time, which would involve Obama winning reelection and gaining some leverage over the Republicans in Congress.
In the face of a total strike down, single payer probably becomes the best option. But it’s not an easy one. The hurdles to passing Obamacare were that Democrats needed to have a majority in the House, the presidency, and 60 senators. The good news to passing single payer is that they probably would only need 50 senators. (Single-payer could be done simply by expanding Medicare, a pure fiscal change that could be accomplished through a budget bill that can pass the Senate with a majority vote.)