Entries in Health Care Bill (3)


Risk, Reward in Obama Health Care Law Appeal to Supreme Court

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration’s pursuit of an expedited U.S. Supreme Court review of its health care law is a roll of the political dice with enormous implications for the president and the 2012 campaign.

While the signature issue of Obama’s presidency has already figured prominently in rhetoric on both sides, an expected ruling on its constitutionality by June guarantees a dramatic pre-election debate in which Obama may have the most to gain.

A victory for the Affordable Care Act in a high court dominated by conservatives could tame the most fiery criticism from the right, undermining charges popularized by the Tea Party that the administration usurped its constitutional authority.

A ruling against it, while a setback to the law itself, could serve to embolden the argument Obama has already been making that Republicans across all branches of government have become obstructionists without solutions.

“The administration would be able to talk about the conservative grip on government preventing us from solving any problems,” said Thomas Mann, a political scholar at the Brookings Institution. “They can campaign against the Republicans in congress, and the Republicans in charge of the Supreme Court, and then tie it into the Citizens United decision and other matters.”

Regardless of the outcome, a review of the law by the Supreme Court gives Obama added reason to talk passionately about health care on the campaign trail, and tout popular benefits of the law that have already taken effect.

“The uncertainty about whether the law is going to take effect has made it more difficult for the president to defend it,” said Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the New Democrat Network. “Having it clearly decided one way or the other is better for his reelection and better for the health care bill.”

Democratic strategist John Lapp, a veteran of political campaigns, said even if the administration loses the case, Obama will likely be able to resurrect the narrative of “Republicans undermining critical healthcare for the middle class.”

“If this is in the news, if the Supreme Court is considering it, and all sorts of deliberations ‘will health care survive?’ are taking place, that could excite Obama’s base,” said Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer.

“It will remind people what it did. It will remind supporters that he’s not an ineffective president, that he has a major accomplishment, and that things are at stake if he’s not reelected,” Zelizer said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Republicans' New Year's Resolutions: Repeal, Resist and Investigate

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama returns from his Hawaiian holiday this week to a changed Washington where Republicans will control the House of Representatives.

But don't count on a new era of bipartisanship any time soon.  Congress's new Republicans and old Democrats are already at war.

Lawmakers sparred Sunday during talk shows about the national debt, for starters.  Even as the debt races toward $14 trillion, some Republicans said they would oppose extending the debt limit beyond the current $14.3 trillion, although such a move could shut down the government.

Republicans are threatening to cut off the ability of the government to borrow money unless spending goes back to where it was before the stimulus and before the banking bailout.

The fight over the national debt is on the horizon.  More immediately, Republicans will start with health-care overhaul, signed into law last year after a bruising, lengthy legislative battle.

One of the first votes of the new Congress in 2011 will be an effort to repeal the health care bill Democrats passed in 2010.  That repeal effort will likely fail in the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats.  But Republicans will then try to starve the bill of money.

The third line of attack will be investigations.  The new Republican sheriff is Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who will chair the House committee in charge of government investigations.  Issa has said he's planning a barrage of hearings on everything from Medicare fraud to the government's failure to prevent the BP oil spill.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lawmakers Voice Outrage at New Medicare Head

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans unloaded their pent-up frustrations on Dr. Don Berwick Wednesday in his first appearance before Congress since taking charge of Medicare and Medicaid.

“This is pathetic,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, groused at Wednesday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Hatch expressed the recurring complaints of Republicans that President Obama never should have put Berwick in charge of an agency that gets more money than the Pentagon without first sending him to Capitol Hill for even a confirmation hearing before this “doggone important committee.”

Just three months after nominating him, President Obama used a recess appointment this summer to put Berwick in his post while the Senate was on break.

Hatch said his constituents were “outraged” by Berwick’s recess appointment and he complained Wednesday’s hearing was too brief to cover the vastness of Republican health care concerns.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning scolded Berwick. “Your recess appointment was an end-run around Congress,” Bunning said. “I can assure you you won’t receive special treatment next year...I expect you’ll be spending a lot of time before the House of Representatives.”

Republicans take control of the House in January. At a minimum, they promise to run Berwick and other Obama administration officials through a series of tough hearings. There’s also a move afoot to repeal the new health care law.

Berwick said that would be a “terrible” outcome. “I can’t think of a worse plan than repealing this law,” he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio