The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold “Obamacare” constitutes a huge victory for President Obama, protecting one of his biggest accomplishments and denying Republicans the ability to declare the nation’s highest court also disagrees with the president’s health care law.
The ruling validates Obama’s decision to spend much of his first two years in office in an all-out push on health care, which he in effect choose to advocate instead of climate change, immigration reform or additional stimulus bills to boost the economy. The president expended much of his political capital on this single piece of legislation, and many Democrats argue it helped lead to the party losing control of the House in 2010.
The health care law, which includes a number of protections for consumers and could provide 30 million more Americans with insurance, now constitutes one of the signature accomplishments of the president’s tenure. It joins winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reinvigorating the American auto industry,and the killing of Osama bin Laden as major parts of Obama’s legacy.
Politically, it limits the attacks from Mitt Romney on the issue. If the Court had struck down the law, Romney would have not only criticized the president on the policy, but also cast him as wasting the country’s time on a provision that was then struck down.
At the same time, the law does not guarantee the president’s reelection. While the ruling may provide him a temporary boost, the economy remains the top issue for Americans, and the recovery is still slow and uneven. And the country remains highly-polarized; the conservative-leaning Americans who have long opposed the health care law are not likely to change their minds now.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @perrybaconjr