The events of the past three days must be giving the Obama brain trust reason to worry over the future of their signature legislation, ObamaCare. At a White House briefing by Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest today, they suddenly decided that Obamacare is in fact a bi-partisan bill. I’m not making this up. Via Bill McMorris at the Free Beacon:
The Obama administration is now referring to Obamacare as a “bi-partisan bill” and calling the unpopular individual mandate “a Republican idea,” following three days of tough questioning by the Supreme Court.
“The Affordable Care Act is a bipartisan plan and one that we think is constitutional,” Deputy White House press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
There’s only one problem, as McMorris notes: Not one House Republican voted for the bill on final passage. Nor did any Senate Republicans. Not even Olympia Snowe. What, precisely, Obama thinks he can gain by suddenly referring to his ObamaCare fiasco as a “bi-partisan” plan is impossible to determine. Maybe he thinks this will allow him to reel in Scalia? Or Alito? Who knows. Also noteworthy today is the change in verbiage from “individual mandate” to, drumroll please: “individual responsibility clause”:
He [Josh Earnest] also referred to the individual mandate as the “individual responsibility” clause of the bill, in an attempt to distance the administration from the term individual mandate.
“The administration remains confident that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional; one of the reasons for that is that the original personal responsibility clause…was a conservative idea,” he said.
Individual responsibility clause? That sounds like something Mitt Romney could have come up with. Indeed I bet he wishes he did. It has a much more conservative ring to it, even if it isn’t. Not that Mitt would know, of course. At any rate, if Obama’s intention is to fool conservative SCOTUS Justices into voting for his ObamaCare fiasco, he may want to try a new tack. I know, experts tell us that one can’t gain any insight into how Supreme Court Justices will ultimately vote on an issue just by listening to their questioning during oral arguments. But that said, the overwhelming consensus emerging from the past three days is that ObamaCare is on life support. The main question being asked now is not whether or not they’ll uphold the mandate, but rather whether the Court will only strike down the individual mandate or throw out the entire piece of…er…legislation. After today, there’s growing hope that the Justices will take the latter route:
The Supreme Court’s conservative justices said Wednesday they are prepared to strike down President Obama’s healthcare law entirely.
Picking up where they left off Tuesday, the conservatives said they thought a decision striking down the law’s controversial individual mandate to purchase health insurance means the whole statute should fall with it.
The court’s conservatives sounded as though they had determined for themselves that the 2,700-page measure must be declared unconstitutional. “One way or another, Congress will have to revisit it in toto,” said Justice Antonin Scalia.
Agreeing, Justice Anthony Kennedy said it would be an “extreme proposition” to allow the various insurance regulations to stand after the mandate was struck down.
If even Anthony Kennedy appears disposed to not only dump the mandate, but the entire law, there is indeed reason to be cautiously optimistic. I don’t see how Obama’s silliness in referring to ObamaCare as a bi-partisan bill or calling the individual mandate a “personal responsibility clause” changes anything materially.
Related: Via Hot Air, here’s Justice Scalia mocking Donald Verilli, Obama’s Solicitor General, for suggesting the Supreme Court should read the entire 2700 page bill. Something, I hasten to add, neither the Democrat Congress nor President Obama did prior to signing it. Scalia suggests that being forced to read the enormous boondoggle would violate the 8th Amendment’s proscription of “cruel and unusual punishment”. Enjoy: