By Jonathan Bernstein, The New Republic, March 28, 2012 –
Several people are calling the Supreme Court sessions on the Affordable Care Act the most important since Bush v. Gore. The case is certainly critically important to the fate of the law, and with it the future of health care, the federal budget, and perhaps the U.S. economy. But you know what’s not riding on the Court’s decision, despiteplenty of hype? The 2012 election. The truth is that the decision in this case will likely have little or no effect on Obama v. Romney.
There are two reasons for this. First, most events have much less staying power than we expect they do. Even truly important events—take, for example, the September 11 attacks—fade. Of course, events can have lasting effects, including electoral impact, even after we stop being aware of them. But it’s not at all hard to find a half dozen or more events that are said to be election-changing when they happen, only to disappear without a trace months later. No, Barack Obama’s church didn’t wind up dominating the November 2008 election; nor did how many houses John McCain owned. Or, for a (slightly!) more substantive issue: Remember when everyone cared so much about the federal government’s credit rating? When was the last time that was mentioned? The Supreme Court will likely decide the fate of ACA in June, some five months before Election Day; there will be dozens of headlines between decision day and when voters go to the polls. Unless one of the candidates puts a lot of effort into keeping it in the news, it’s not going to be on people’s minds.
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