Obamacare

Will the Fight Over ObamaCare Live Even if the Law Dies?

|

Will the fight over ObamaCare live even if the law dies? An article in Politico suggests that if the Supreme Court overturns the law, "winding it down could be almost as contentious as building it up." I'm skeptical. From a narrow, Beltway-focused perspective, it is certainly true that various administrative controversies will remain. But nationally, winding down the law is unlikely to result in even close to the volume of uproar that accompanied passage and initial implementation.

The article suggests that the main issues will be what to do with resources already committed to implementation, including perhaps 3,500 federal workers whose positions involve working on the law. No doubt there will be squabbling over how to redirect any funding that's suddenly uncommitted, as well as what to do with federal employees tasked with getting the law up and running.

But these bureaucratic challenges will be far less controversial than, say, the imposition of a federal mandate to purchase health insurance, or even state-level decisions about whether or not create health exchanges. The primary source of discontent with the law is that it exists; if and when the law is gone, most of the associated public controversy will disappear as well. 

A lack of widespread public controversy, however, doesn't mean that there won't be administrative decisions to made. The sheer complexity of the law ensures that there will be multiple bureaucratic messes to be swept up should it be struck down. 

But the administration's health agency isn't heading for the broom closet quite yet. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Politico last week that her agency has not yet started work on a plan for what it will do should the Supreme Court strike down the 2010 health care law. This admission comes despite the fact that she thinks it would "probably" be a good idea to have such a plan. I am not sure whether to believe that the agency, which has prioritized the health law for the last two years, has not started work on a contingency option, but either way, it's classic Sebelius: It's either not true, or it suggests poor administrative planning. 

NEXT: America, the Land From Which Torture Victims Now Seek Asylum

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And if Romney wins, and Sebelius is replaced, what happens then? Or is the bureaucratic inertia so high that nothing, absolutely nothing will stop it?

    That was the stupid part of Democrats passing this law – even if it does stay on the books – is that the ‘pubs can easily mangle/warp the HHS. It does have sweeping powers that could be used in a variety of “interesting” ways.

  2. fire all the fuckers that had anything to do with rolling out obamacare

    1. Including Obama!

      1. Working on it.

    2. President Romney can have a Reagan/PATCO moment.

      “You’re all fired”

      1. I guess theoretically, but my bet is he wouldn’t.

  3. Don’t you feel sorry for the bureaucrats who are working on implementing the law, because if the law is repealed they lose their jobs. Then the unemployment numbers go up, and Obama looks bad.

    1. , because if the law is repealed they lose their jobs.

      Unless they say “Fuck you, it was passed democratically and we’re going to do it anyway. Try and stop us oh men and women in mysterious black robes!”

      1. I’ve been wondering about that myself. Obama and Co. didn’t exactly stop when ordered by another federal judge. Why now?

        1. Courts can give orders and declare all they want, but without any enforcement power what can they do?
          They can enforce laws against little people because they can send out the cops to drag them into court.
          But what can they do against the other branches of government?

          Nothing.

          1. If the Court says its unconstitutional and Obama ignores them, then some states may very well vote to nullify. It would be a political disaster for Obama if that were to happen since no one other than his base of authoritarian left-wingers would support him moving against both the courts and the state governments in flagarant violation of separation of powers.

            1. If the states vote to nullify, then the feds can stop returning all that money that they confiscate from the states’ citizens.
              Then what? It’s not like the states can prevent the feds from collecting taxes on its citizens.

              1. Constitutional Crisis.

                And you know what that means? Chavez-type takeover! Okay, I’ll put the tin-foil hat down.

              2. Sure they can. You arrest the tax collectors operating in your state.

                1. I like where all this is going.

          2. Sarc, the (federal) courts don’t have any police of their own; they rely (mostly) on federal marshals who are part of the DOJ (an executive branch agency).

            As my Lord Humungus correctly pointed out, for the executive branch to openly defy federal court orders would trigger a constitutional crisis. Seriously.

            1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcester_v._Georgia

              Didn’t create a crisis when Jackson did it.

        2. Just be sure you live in one of the 26 states that sued.

  4. No doubt there will be squabbling over how to redirect any funding that’s suddenly uncommitted…

    Maybe they could try issuing fewer treasury bonds?

    1. Good one!

  5. The article suggests that the main issues will be what to do with resources already committed to implementation, including perhaps 3,500 federal workers whose positions involve working on the law.

    I hear the GSA and Secret Service have some openings.

  6. Worst case (for them) they’ll get a one year severence paid vacation courtesy of you and I.

    1. plus relocation costs :).

  7. Someone please photoshop Sebelius’s head in this pic onto Khan’s body from ST:TWOK.

  8. if ACA is struck, the employeer mandate goes down. >corporationz are people too

  9. There’s something happening out here, man. You know something, man? I know something you that you don’t know. That’s right, Jack. The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad. Oh, yeah. He’s dying, I think. He hates all this. He hates it! But the man’s a…He reads poetry out loud, all right. And a voice…he likes you because you’re still alive. He’s got plans for you. No, I’m not gonna help you. You’re gonna help him, man. You’re gonna help him. I mean, what are they gonna say when he’s gone? ‘Cause he dies when it dies, when it dies, he dies! What are they gonna say about him? He was a kind man? He was a wise man? He had plans? He had wisdom? Bullshit, man! And am I gonna be the one that’s gonna set them straight? Look at me! Look at me! Wrong! [points to Willard] You!

    1. needs moar LSD…and harleys

    2. Wrong Dennis Hopper role, urine.

  10. Will the Fight Over ObamaCare Live Even if the Law Dies?

    YES. YES. YES.

    Team Blue would run the whole 2012 campaign on how the SCOTUS and Team Red “denied millions of people medical coverage.”

  11. You’re wrong, Aresen. The campaign would be that SCOTUS and Team Red denied millions of people medical care.

    Because why lie a little, when you can lie a lot?

    1. Technical correction noted.

    2. The didn’t just deny care, they denied access to care.

  12. If you think striking down the whole bill will lead an unholy bureaucratic clusterfuck, try to imagine what striking down just the individual mandate will do.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.