U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who’s running for re-election next year, explained in a recent radio interview what he believes will happen if the Supreme Court rules against a central provision of ObamaCare in June (h/t TPM):
JOHNSON: Unfortunately, President Obama’s response to an adverse decision — in other words one that actually follows the law — would be really simple. Just a one-sentence bill allowing people’s subsidies to flow to federal exchanges and/or offer the governors, ‘Hey, we know you got those federal exchanges. Just sign the bottom line. We’ll make those established by the state.’ And of course, he’ll have the ads all racked up with the individuals that have benefited from Obamacare on the backs of the American taxpayer. He’ll have all those examples as well so…
WEBER: And the sad sack stories about who’s dying from what and why they can’t get their coverage.
WEBER: Oh yeah.
I think that’s probably pretty accurate. In fact, it would be political malpractice if Democrats did NOT react in that fashion. “The sad sack stories about who’s dying from what and why they can’t get their coverage” will indeed be everywhere, and they will be everywhere because they will be true. An adverse court ruling would undo the progress illustrated in the chart to the right, sending that downward arc back up toward the sky and stripping millions of Americans of health insurance that they’ve come to rely upon. The entire health-insurance industry might be disrupted.
Johnson is nervous about that prospect, and he ought to be. As he notes, Democrats will offer a quick, easy fix that Republicans will of course reject. And Republicans will offer … what exactly?
The Supreme Court accepted King v. Burwell more than five months ago. It heard oral arguments on the case in early March. Its decision is expected in June, now just two months away. And from what I can tell, congressional Republicans have made no progress whatsoever toward cobbling together a realistic legislative alternative and building the consensus within their own party needed to pass it.
I find that remarkable. The train is coming, they see it coming, they’ve been praying for the coming of this train for six years now and they find themselves standing in the middle of the track, staring at the train as it looms larger and larger and … they cannot move. They cannot act.