In the end, the fate of Obamacare will almost certainly be decided in the political and legislative arena, not the courts, and the 2012 election is likely to be the decisive battle in that regard. Keeping this in mind, Republicans and conservatives should be doing all they can to make the 2012 election another referendum on the damage Obamacare will do to the American economy and health system.
To make that happen, they need to resurrect Obamacare as an issue in the legislative process. Last January, as one of its first acts, the Republican House passed a full repeal bill, sending a strong signal to the voters who returned them to power. Not surprisingly, repeal failed in the Senate. In the months since that original vote, however, the issue has fallen off the public radar. House committees have held useful hearings, and conducted useful investigations, but the issue hasn’t gotten much attention because there has been no high-profile political fight to force additional press coverage.
That would change if House Republicans started bringing up repeal provisions, one by one, beginning with the individual mandate. Yes, the mandate is under review in the courts, and could very well go by the wayside even without legislative repeal. But that does not mean it can’t also be targeted by Congress. Indeed, a legal challenge and a legislative challenge might reinforce one another, as justices who see strong political opposition to a provision could be more likely to throw it out.
Bringing the individual mandate up for repeal would also force an incredibly difficult vote for Obamacare’s apologists. The vast majority of voters oppose the health care overhaul, and the Congressional Budget Office says repeal would reduce federal spending and budget deficits by more than $200 billion over a decade. Democrats who defend requiring Americans to pay higher premiums for a product they don’t want do so at their peril.