Obama’s signature legislation is indeed on the line. As is his tenure. His legacy. This vision of liberal governance. It could all still, after so much, fall apart.
There are myriad potential scenarios. The Supreme Court overturns the health care law (or at least its individual mandate). Republicans win a Senate majority in 2012. Obama is defeated.
These scenarios set the stage for (potentially) lethal blows to Obama’s definitive legislation. One legislative tactic, called reconciliation, empowers Republicans to take down critical components of the law with only a simple majority in the Senate — though that move is far easier written than done.
Definite predictions are a professional hazard this far out. As top-shelf congressional scholar Tom Mann, of the Brookings Institution, put it, “I honestly don’t know what will happen.”
“But listen, I think the 2012 election is hugely consequential,” Mann continued. “If Republicans took control of the White House, as well as the Senate, even being a few votes short of cloture, I’m convinced they would succeed in repealing most or all” of the health care law.