Healthcare ruling is good for democracy

 
Crowds outside the US Supreme Court Washington Dc 28 June 2012 The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the healthcare reform law

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There was not much calm before the storm. Political Washington has been living on its nerves for weeks and the crowds outside the Supreme Court today were jittery, in a good-natured way.

As the clock ticked down to 10:00 both sides of Washington's 1st Street NE were packed with supporters and opponents of President Barack Obama's healthcare law. They were waving banners, erupting in occasional chants.

As one side yelled: "Healthcare for all," there was an answering cheeky chorus of "we're broke".

It was so busy that there was no phone coverage, a sobering experience for those, like me, who frantically check Twitter, the superb Scotusblog and emails.

'Sigh of relief'

The first indication of the ruling was a scream of delight from a group carrying pink placards, declaring: "Women for healthcare".

Obama: "A victory for people all over this country"

To the surprise of many, and against the expectation of a lot of commentators, the Supreme Court had ruled that the Affordable Care Act - "Obamacare" to its detractors - was constitutional.

While supporters of the law danced in a small, celebratory circle, opponents took to the microphone venting their fury.

They warned this was the end of the republic, that socialism was heading to the US, and speaker after speaker said the court had proved that President Obama had lied (by saying the "individual mandate" was not a tax).

Inside the White House there must have been a gust of air as everyone from the president down breathed a huge sigh of relief.

This ruling means President Obama avoids a humiliating shellacking and does not have to make a near impossible decision about how to replace an eviscerated law.

He could wipe his brow and make a speech about how this was not about politics but about the American people.

It was not one of his best: slightly hectoring, with rather a lot of numbers. He did not, for once, use the word "choice" or talk about the election.

A good betrayal

Mitt Romney did. This is good news for the president in the sense that the alternative would have been much worse.

That does not mean it is bad news for Republicans. Far from it. Mr Romney made a short and effective speech making the central point that the only way to get rid of the law was to elect him.

He has been handed a cause.

Romney blasts healthcare ruling

Remember that it was fiery opposition to President Obama's healthcare plans from individuals at town hall meetings that propelled the Tea Party to national prominence and helped make it into a movement with huge political clout.

So there is no doubt this really fires up the base, They love a good betrayal and can now add the conservative chief justice to their little list.

But that is not all. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans want the law repealed. And some surveys show that feeling is strong among independents.

It is now clear the only way it will be repealed is at the ballot box, by putting Mr Romney in the White House.

If it is true that his promise appeals strongly to swing voters then Thursday's ruling gives them a big reason to vote for him.

This is good for democracy.

Although it is the Supreme Court's job to make far-reaching decisions, it would have left a slightly sour taste in some mouths if judges, not the people, had decided the fate of this important legislation.

Now, as Mr Romney said, people have a choice.

This election really is about two very different visions of America, and there could be no more appropriate issue to fight over than healthcare, where arguments about the size and role of government and the duty of citizens and care for the vulnerable clash head-on.

 
Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 25.

    VP Biden put it eloquently the other day. Romney was a job creator in China, India, Mexico&Singapore. He is Jobs Outsourcing/Offshoring in Chief. If the Romney & his supporters have their way, they will outsource/offshore every American job if it means maximizing profits for shareholders. Most Americans would not be able to afford it, should we privatize many of the services provided by govt.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    Just to add, there are a number of suits against this pending, too.Maybe 14 or so.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 23.

    16, and what of Americans who cross the border to Canada? Plenty do y'know.
    What about amount of GDP spent on health, compared where the US is in life expectancy, health care outcomes and, shockingly, infant mortality?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 22.

    If Americans are irrational, they will vote against healthcare this fall and remain vulnerable to losing their homes when they fall ill.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 21.

    16. MidWestern Sue -- another lackey of the medical lobby. As a disabled senior citizen, I got all of my considerable care for many years right at home. I shudder to think of what my fate would have been south of the border. Why are universal medical care opponents smug and not ashamed?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 20.

    "It was not one of his best: slightly hectoring, with rather a lot of numbers. He did not, for once, use the word "choice" or talk about the election."

    Mardell needs to take a step back, and re-read the speech. Obama intentionally did not speak about the election to show how this is not a politically charged issue for him: the law was for the American people, not to prove an ideological point.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 19.

    If the Affordable Health Care is to go. Lets go all the way and eliminate all socialized health care in the USA including Medicare, Veterans Administration and Indian Health Care Sure would save a lot of money and reduce taxes

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    I am a menber of a social media site discussing orthopaedic injury issues, it is a global membership site. I have heard from many Canadian and British 1st hand accounts of the difficulty getting a procedure and if there is a complication having a revision. You may get a procedure, it will take time and may or may not be top notch.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 17.

    In reply to xxxaaaxxx: What are you on about? We've lived here in Canada all our lives and I've never seen any sign of the rationing you speak of. Perhaps it might be an idea to check your facts before trotting out the tired old party line yet again. People are dying and living in misery because of the lack of compassion in your political system. I prefer the truth over fiction.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    8:Tim:Better tell that to friends of mine who know plenty of Candians who cross the border to get health care.

    11:Vireo:I presume that they fail to mention the part about paying for other people's abortions as a rider you can't be told about until after you've signed up for the health insurance.

    14:mscracker:Exactly.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 15.

    3. ALL systems have pros and cons, and all also have some degree of rationing, as someone who has to use the UK NHS, you are talking lobbyist/FOX rubbish.
    Swift and un-rationed treatment - in the case of medication, has since diagnoses 12 years ago allowed me to always be active, stay working and thus keep on contributing to the tax and National Insurance that funds it. No stress about money too.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 14.

    patriot:this is what Mr Mardell actually said:
    It is now clear the only way it will be repealed is at the ballot box, by putting Mr Romney in the White House.
    If it is true that his promise appeals strongly to swing voters then Thursday's ruling gives them a big reason to vote for him.
    This is good for democracy"

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 13.

    Mardell misses the big point. The position of Kennedy confirms his drift to the conservative wing in recent times and Roberts position shows he is not Scalia-lite. This is a fundamental change in the understood dynamics of the Court (previously 4 conservative/4 liberal with Kennedy as swing) and will likely affect decisions in all sorts of cases for years.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 12.

    3. Rationing and long waiting lists in Canada, xxxaaaxxx? You are so influenced by the U.S. medical lobby. Come visit sometime, so that you know what you are talking about. Are you not embarrassed to be so behind the rest of advanced nations?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 11.

    It's only due to the ignorance of most Americans and their lack of interest in learning about the bill that there is a large segment of the population that is *against it.* This has been proven by polls that show that a majority of voters approve of every component of the bill if they are not told it is part of "Obamacare."

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 10.

    Had the Supreme Court ruled Obamacare unconstitutional, it would have meant a big defeat for Obama. The court would have practically handed the presidency to Romney just like it did in 2000 when it stopped the votes counting and declared George W. Bush the president. Americans have a choice this fall, a president for all Americans & growing the middle-class or one for a handful rich & powerful.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    If the ruling had been the opposite & defeating the individual mandate, would this have lead to the possobility of the court hearing cases that might consider reversing Social Security / Medicare?

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 8.

    For the life of me, I cannot understand what the fuss in the US is all about. We have had universal medical care in Canada for half a century. It is affordable, of good quality, and the fortunate and less fortunate receive necessary care from womb to tomb. Our taxes are lower than in the US, and living standards comparable.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 7.

    Obama was elected on a health care mandate lets not forget.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 6.

    A curious decision: the majority opinion reflects only the thinking of one justice, who rejected the main argument but agreed with an alternative. None of the other justices agreed with the alternative but four concurred because they agreed with the main argument; the other four dissented because they disagreed with both arguments.

 

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