COMMENTARY | "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
Those words, spoken by Ben Kenobi in "Star Wars," give an accurate description of how Obamacare will be replaced by even more government care.
A survey of legal experts, including those who clerked for the justices or argued cases before them, predicted the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will be struck down. If so, we can expect a "single-payer system," the dream of liberals, to replace it, especially if Romney is elected.
I'm not the only one who has reached this conclusion. Media expert Jeff Greenfield with Yahoo! News, a former CNN senior analyst, recently wrote: "For me, such a decision will take its place among the more supremely ironic of unintended consequences: a law designed to avoid greater government intrusion into health care will have been invalidated as an unconstitutional overreach of government power, while a far more intrusive approach would have clearly passed muster."
It is ironic because liberals didn't want Obamacare. They wanted a "single-payer system," similar to what many European countries have. But Obama played the centrist, bringing together Democrat ideas of "universal health care" with Republican ideas about cuts in Medicare and Medicaid to pay for the bill.
Obama also dusted off the old GOP idea of the individual mandate, the one element of the health care bill that people are sure won't survive the top court.
Once the Supreme Court kills the individual mandate, there will be little appetite for keeping some of the other elements of the bill, as the individual mandate was the one part that offset the insurance company costs of covering kids on their parents' policy until they turn 26, and not dropping folks with pre-existing conditions.
Maybe the Supreme Court ruling galvanizes liberals, angry that Obamacare was overturned. But I don't think so. It is just as likely to make some Obama supporters throw in the towel. And some liberals really don't care, because they really didn't want the centrist Obamacare. Howard Dean, of the liberal wing of the Democrat Party, hopes the Supreme Court tosses it out.
Except for the most blindly loyal supporters of Romney, everyone knows Romney backed the individual mandate in Massachusetts' health care system. Why not? After all, it is a boon to the insurance industry. And Romney has always put business interests before conservative beliefs. Now we have the emails to prove what Romney has been denying all along.
But the rejection of Obamacare would present a huge opportunity to Romney. A single-payer system could still boost a few of the biggest health insurance companies and get some Democrat support as well as cancel out the most extreme conservative opposition.
You see, the biggest myth about the single-payer system is that it is government-run health care. But that's what Britain has with their National Health System, where government hospitals are like American public schools. A single-payer system is government-paid health care. It allows for a free market, but encourages private insurers compete to offer health care insurance to those that can afford it, with government picking up the tab. And it would be a contract for private companies to bid on, which would create the "efficiency" Romney could sell to Republicans on the fence, who are convinced that a single-payer system has to be a government-run insurance company, as Vermont governor Pete Shumlin proposed.
Many Democrats supported Kucinich's "single-payer system" plan, allowing the states to create their own single-payer systems. They would cancel out the Ron Paul libertarians and cautious conservatives, allowing a President Romney to claim "bipartisan" credentials.
Of course it would be a flood of taxpayer money to business, but that was the Bush model. Remember how Bush's prescription drug plan was a taxpayer giveaway to the pharmaceutical industry, leading to massive cost overruns. And a lot of Bush's economic team members are advising Romney.