If Obamacare Is Struck Down, Will Romney Suffer More Than Obama?

If it's fair game for James Carville, the rest of us can speculate too.

“I think that this will be the best thing that ever happen to the Democratic party because health care costs are gonna escalate unbelievably,” Carville told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer of a possible Supreme Court decision to strike down the law. “I honestly believe this, this is not spin.”

“You know what the Democrats are going to say - and it is completely justified: ‘We tried, we did something, go see a 5-4 Supreme Court majority,’” Carville added. “The public has these guys figured out. Our polls show that half think this whole thing is political.”

“Just as a professional Democrat, there’s nothing better to me than overturning this thing 5-4 and then the Republican Party will own the health care system for the foreseeable future. And I really believe that. That is not spin,” Carville said.

But is it all just spin?

Seriously, Carville's argument is intriguing, but mostly because it brings to mind even better arguments. Less important than the country's view of the Supreme Court is the country's view of Barack Obama. And the fact is, Obama's most significant, least popular achievement to date is the Affordable Care Act. Imagine how the president's reelection campaign is transformed by not having to defend his marquee legislative accomplishment. No more wasting time on defending waivers. No more "banana." No more death panels.

Instead, Obama can make vague, grand assurances that we'll get it right next time. He can tell us he's more dedicated than ever to passing the kind of real healthcare reform that works for middle-class American families and the Constitution. He can tell us there's all manner of other stuff we can, nay must do right now to help the less fortunate. And he can run on his real achievements: preventing a global financial meltdown (for now); withdrawing from Iraq without pitching that poor country into the abyss (for now); killing Osama bin Laden, darkening the sky with drones, and all that good stuff.

That makes for a much narrower line of attack against the president than Republicans currently enjoy -- especially with Mitt Romney as their nominee. If the ACA is struck down, Romney will have the dubious distinction of being the guy whose healthcare plan inspired the most unconstitutional governmental overreach in living memory. Many Republicans will rightly fear a push among Democrats to pivot to the states, taking Romneycare on the road, while they reset the national agenda. But worst of all, Romney will lose the one mantra he's got that unites the broadest coalition that might vote for him: Republicans of all stripes, libertarians, and many independents. If there's no Obamacare to repeal, what are Romney voters voting for? More bankruptcies? More belligerence? More elevators?

Unfair attack? You betcha. But it's what Romney faces if the ACA is out of the picture. He'll be forced to latch onto some second-rate issue like immigration to placate the conservatives who will demand something affirmative from Romney once his opposition to Obamacare is electorally irrelevant. He'll be forced (even further) out of his comfort zone. And lest we forget, we'll get a ruling on the ACA months before the Republican convention in Tampa. In fact, there will probably even be a primary or two left when the Supreme Court hands down its decision, including -- bad optics alert -- Utah.

The end of Obamacare might be good news for Republicans. For Mitt Romney, it's yet another hurdle on the road to the White House.

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