Opinion: Columnists

Who's sorry about the Roberts ruling now?

BY: Noemie Emery August 21, 2012 | 8:00 pm

Any year now, Democrats may start to ask themselves if it might have been better had John Roberts not changed his mind. If they would be better off with Obamacare out of its and our misery, a bone of contention now safely buried, and not as a bone in their throats.

For one thing, they still have the issue upon them -- the historic triumph they don't dare mention but which Republicans happily do.

Second, were Obamacare no longer the law, we might be seeing an uptick in hiring right now. Instead, that will be deferred until after November (and then possibly only if Romney's elected), and unemployment is rising in 44 states. Unemployment rising in 44 states is not what you want when just ten or so states will decide the election and unemployment has been 8 percent or higher for 41 months.

Third, had Roberts done otherwise, they might still have the issue of Medicare, which at this point they do not. When Paul Ryan was chosen to run with Mitt Romney, liberals planned to rip him to pieces over plans to trim Medicare. Somehow, they forgot that their own health care plan did much the same thing, covering 30 million new clients by draining millions from providers of Medicare. Although these cuts will not directly lead Medicare clients to pay more or lose coverage, they will end with many doctors and hospitals refusing to treat them at all.

This move on Medicare, which began as a shield for Ryan to fend off attacks on his program, turned into a sword, as it started to drag Obamacare into the argument. As Josh Kraushaar noted in National Journal, "by having a conversation about Medicare, it allows them to bring up President Barack Obama's unpopular health care law as well." Bill Kristol thinks D-Day was Aug. 14, when it suddenly dawned on the people in Boston they could link their defense of Ryan's proposals to the public disgust with the president's plan. "Obamacare's unpopularity blunts Obama's attacks on Romney-Ryan Medicare plans," said a Miami Herald headline only days later. A Rasmussen Reports poll found that by a 54 percent to 42 percent split, seniors in Florida found Obamacare more frightening than the Ryan proposals. (The split among all ages was 48 percent to 41 percent.)

The National Republican Campaign Committee polled 28 battleground states on both Ryan's plan and the Democrats' message against it, and found Ryan winning by ten points on aggregate. As Kraushaar put it, "Obama's health care law is even more unpopular than his record on the economy."

And the Republicans found a way to bring that into the argument, too. The health care reform plan, with its massive menu of regulations and tax hikes, has long been seen by everyone except Obama and his fanatical followers as an anchor dragging the down the "recoveries" that haven't been happening. It seems that then public is onto this, too. "Rather than being seen as a diversion from talking about the economy, 43 percent believe repeal [of the bill] would help the economy," says Scott Rasmussen. "Just 27 percent think it would hurt. That's one of the reasons most voters consistently support repeal. It's not a choice between repealing the health care law and focusing on the economy. They're part of the same plan."

So Medicare, which is part of the looming entitlement crisis, is now feeding Romney's plans to fix the economy. For linking the two, Romney can thank Obama's health care reform plan, given to an ungrateful nation and rescued by the Supreme Court just in time to ruin its author.

Who's thanking John Roberts now?

Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."

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