A Matter Of Life And Death

As I was about to settle in to write an article a news alert came to my attention and changed the subject matter of it. From the Washington PostSupreme Court says it will once again consider the fate of the Affordable Care Act. Let’s explore.

The Court announced that it would consider the third challenge to the Affordable Care Act in its next session. That session begins on Monday, October 5, 2020. Therefore that is the first possible day arguments could be heard. For those unfamiliar with the Supreme Court’s procedures, they never render a ruling at the conclusion of oral arguments or in the first few following hours for that matter. The common practice is for the nine justices to meet in later days, discuss the matter and vote on it. Then the decision is written up during which time the justices are allowed to lobby each other in an effort to get their co-workers to change their votes. If the votes change the ruling the decision writing process starts all over again. While all that is happening dissenting decision(s) are also written.

As an aside, I smell a rat with the timing. While it is unusual for the Court to add a case mid-session it is not unprecedented. What could be more of an emergency that the health of the citizens of the nation especially as the conoravirus has now spread from coast to coast? The only reasoning I see is that Trump defenders on the Court want to protect his 2020 campaign.

All that said what do you think the odds are of the decision being announced before the November 3rd election? I’d say none. To add to that remember that the Court’s long practice is to announce its most impactful decisions just prior to its summer adjournment. The bottom line is that it is not only reasonable but prudent to expect the decision’s announcement after the election and inauguration.

As I stated above this clearly benefits Trump. Democrats had a successful 2018 mid-term (remember Democrats are notorious for poor turnout and therefore poor showings in mid-term elections) in large part because the voters perceived them as the defenders of the ACA a/k/a Obamacare. In short Obamacare protects more Americans, bent the cost curve downward and assures Americans with per-existing conditions health care coverage. If Obamacare goes all those things go with it and the American people don’t like that idea.

While the case in point is somewhat complicated the bottom line is that the Republicans are trying to kill Obamacare which is more popular with the voters than ever. Despite lies to the contrary Trump’s administration is leading the charge to kill Obamacare.

This situation reminds me of the 1972 Olympic Gold Medal Basketball Game where basically they just kept playing until the Russians took the lead and then declared them the winners. In that case at least the officials remained the same during all the “extensions”. In this case the Republicans have changed the officials adding two almost certain anti-Obamacare votes in Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. This is a case of continuing the “game” until your side wins and then some.

Here is the scenario I fear: Trump is able to campaign in 2020 without the issue of Obamacare being front and center. It is in his political interest to avoid it. Therefore he is able to squeak out another narrow win (while losing the irrelevant popular vote again). Somewhere in June of 2021the Court issues its ruling basically striking down Obamacare and taking health insurance away from millions of Americans. (Who needs health care anyway? It’s not like a pandemic could strike America. Oh, I forgot; one has.) That would mean that Congress would have to scramble to pass new legislation but since the Senate remained in Republican control that is impossible and anyway since Trump is in the White House he will simply veto it and the votes necessary for an override will never exist in 2021 under any likely scenario.

This just underscores the importance of 2020. Democrats need to keep the House, take back the Senate and the White House. Vote like your life and/or the lives of your loved ones depend upon it because they do.

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