The best-laid plans and all that.
SCOTUS has just torpedoed a Democrat party effort to make Obamacare the cardinal issue of 2020. This stems from a recent decision which ruled the healthcare law unconstitutional on the basis of the tax no longer existing that supposedly legitimized it. Previously, even though Obama officials had relentlessly argued Obamacare wasn’t a tax, Chief Justice Roberts read that into the law in order to allow it to pass constitutional muster. Republicans removed the penalties early in Trump’s first term.
Democrats wanted to expedite the appeal of that decision and get it on the docket for spring 2020. The Supreme Court initially signaled they might take up the case, but nope, they’ve decided to punt.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Democrats’ plea to consider a high-stakes legal challenge that could kill Obamacare, punting a resolution in the politically fraught case until after the presidential election.
The decision deals a blow to Democrats’ hopes to elevate the issue in 2020, but it will come as a relief to President Donald Trump and Republicans, who’ve been wary of the lawsuit’s potential to scramble their election hopes.
The strategy here was to force the Supreme Court to rule on this during the thick of the summer election season, where it would become a major partisan issue to attack the President with. The finger-pointing and screams that Republicans destroyed everyone’s healthcare would be deafening. Of course, that ignores that if the law is eventually overturned for good, it would be the fault of the law itself and not any Republican. But 2018 showed that healthcare is still a potent wedge for the left despite the fact that they should hold no high ground at all on the issue.
Looking at how this played out, it was odd that the Supreme Court even entertained this. There isn’t a split among the lower courts yet. Currently, the district court is debating the severability of the issue, i.e. whether a decision will kill the entire law or just part of it.
Regardless, this is good for Trump and the GOP in 2020. As much as many conservatives would love to fight it out over healthcare right now, the votes are simply not there to do anything. In the end, any major debate just plays into Democrat hands. Now, the earliest this matter will come up again is 2021 and that’s a big blow to Democrat plans to ride a wave of anger about healthcare to victory in 2020.