President Obama addressed the nation last week, after the Supreme Court of the United States upheld his health care law as constitutional based on the ground that it is a tax. His demeanor was not of a winner. His address to the nation was as somber as if he was delivering news of a funeral.
He probably felt deep inside that it was bad news for him. After all, he was anticipating the decision to be the opposite. He was expecting the court to declare the law unconstitutional. This way he could rally against a partisan court and deride the Republicans for killing his signature accomplishment. He could then do again what he does best: pit the haves against the have nots. He could pit the people who have health insurance against those who don’t. Instead, since the court agreed that Obamacare is constitutional, because congress has the power to tax, Obama was left with a different battle to fight.
It occurs to me that he really does not want to fight this new battle, this has been a game changer for him. For four years he has publicly talked about the fact that this law was not a tax, and the court has just ruled otherwise. He realizes that if 2010 was a shellacking for his presidency, precisely because of Obamacare, he now dreads to imagine what 2012 will be like. It seems to me that this presidential election, to a large extent, will likely be a referendum on Obamacare, a law more widely unpopular now than in 2010.
Few people have read the 2700-page law in its entirety. I remember Nancy Pelosi saying that to find out what was in the law, first they had to vote for it. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand why the National Federation of Independent Business was one of the plaintiffs on this case. Many business owners are frightened about the consequences of the new mandates being imposed upon them and have stopped hiring. We have seen what an anemic economic recovery looks like with no job creation. This nation has been hurt tremendously.
I don’t know the intentions of Chief Justice John Roberts, I don’t know what is in his heart and it truly does not matter. But by agreeing with Obama and the four liberal judges, he single handedly brought Republicans and independents together; he has rallied them closer and stronger. The nation cannot afford this law and the president knows it.
I wonder if the president had realized all of this and he was in fact delivering the somber news of his campaign's funeral.
Rosario Marin served as the 41st U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush. She is the author of "Leading Between Two Worlds Lessons" from the first Mexican-born Treasurer of the United States.