US Supreme Court's decision vindicates President Obama's insistence that his health-care reform law is constitutional. The political cost: Republicans can tap into public dislike of the law.
The mandate is the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the signature legislative accomplishment of his presidency, which aims to set the nation on a path to universal health-care coverage. With the court's 5-to-4 decision, Obama is vindicated in his insistence that the law is constitutional. Never mind that the court upheld the mandate in a manner few had expected: that the penalty for failing to buy insurance is a tax, which Congress has the right to levy.
As a former teacher of constitutional law, Obama would have faced embarrassment had the mandate been struck down.
But Obama’s victory could come at a political cost. The mandate is unpopular with the public, and the president will have to defend it in his reelection campaign. At the same time, the high court has handed his challenger, Mitt Romney, and the GOP a pungent election-year issue. Republicans, particularly those with a libertarian, tea party bent, assert that the mandate represents an overreach of federal power and an affront to individual liberty.