24 Jun 2012

Waiting For the Decision, Democrats Look Sad and Confused

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As the fatal hour when the Supreme Court announces the fate of Obamacare’s individual mandate draws near, the New York Times reports that a lot of Washington liberals today are looking embarrassed and trying to come up with new excuses for their past overconfidence.

With the Supreme Court likely to render judgment on President Obama’s health care law this week, the White House and Congress find themselves in a position that many advocates of the legislation once considered almost unimaginable.

In passing the law two years ago, Democrats entertained little doubt that it was constitutional. The White House held a conference call to tell reporters that any legal challenge, as one Obama aide put it, “will eventually fail and shouldn’t be given too much credence in the press.”

Congress held no hearing on the plan’s constitutionality until nearly a year after it was signed into law. Representative Nancy Pelosi, then the House speaker, scoffed when a reporter asked what part of the Constitution empowered Congress to force Americans to buy health insurance. “Are you serious?” she asked with disdain. “Are you serious?”

Opponents of the health plan were indeed serious, and so was the Supreme Court, which devoted more time to hearing the case than to any other in decades. A White House that had assumed any challenge would fail now fears that a centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s presidency may be partly or completely overturned on a theory that it gave little credence. The miscalculation left the administration on the defensive as its legal strategy evolved over the last two years.

“It led to some people taking it too lightly,” said a Congressional lawyer who like others involved in drafting the law declined to be identified before the ruling. “It shouldn’t strike anybody as a close call,” the lawyer added, but “given where we are now, do I wish we had focused even more on this? I guess I would say yes.”

Watch Nancy Pelosi confidently predict Obamacare being upheld 6-3 and then assuring reporters that she knows the Constitution and the bill is “ironclad” and laugh.

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