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Monday, March 26, 2012

As The Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Obamacare, Polling Still Shows It Is Unpopular

By Susan Duclos

As opponents and proponents of the Affordable Care Act, more widely known as Obamacare, line up outside, the Supreme Court starts hearing arguments on Obamacare today and will continue to hear arguments until Wednesday.

The Court will be listening to arguments on four specific issues:

First is the "Anti-Injunction Act of 1867", where the Obama administration will argue that a tax cannot be challenged until someone has actually had to pay it.

This was the issue focused on in day one.

The transcript of oral argument is here. The audio is here.

Second is the "The Individual Mandate" where opponents of the law assert it is unconstitutional because the U.S. government cannot force Americans to buy a specific product.

Third is "Severability" where the Court is being asked to determine whether the individual mandate is severable, meaning if the mandate is struck down, does that automatically strike down the law in it's entirety.

Note- The severability clause was in the Obamacare bill originally and Democrats removed it before passage. This was noted by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson, who back in February 2011, ruled against the individual mandate stating that because there was no severability clause "the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit<' and therefore the entire law "must be declared void."

In that ruling Vinson noted that a severability clause was included "in an earlier version of the act" and was removed from "the bill that subsequently became law." Vinson continued by noting the removal of the severability clause "can be viewed as strong evidence that Congress recognized the act could not operate as intended without the individual mandate."

Fourth issue the Court will be hearing arguments on is Medicaid Expansion.

There are number of views of what the Court will or will not do, but those are guesses at best and until the final decision is rendered sometime in June or early July, the public will not know if the law will stand or be struck down in it's entirety or whether only certain parts of the law will be nullified as unconstitutional.

(Scotus Blog has provided a health care resource page, including briefs and documents, argument previews and other archived coverage, found HERE.)

Since Obamacare's passage two years ago, public polling before it was passed and up until the latest polls published today, have shown the law, on the whole, is widely unpopular with majorities (72 percent) believing the individual mandate part of the law is unconstitutional. That belief crosses party and among those that think the healthcare law was a good thing, 54 percent believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Half of likely voters want the Supreme Court to overturn President Obama’s healthcare law, according to The Hill’s latest poll.

A majority of both men and women want the law voided. By a 52-percent-to-39-percent margin women are more opposed to it than men, who oppose it 48 percent to 45 percent, a difference that matches the poll’s 3-point margin of error.

Gallup and The Hill are not the only two that has found this pattern in polling as the new Reason-Rupe poll also shows 62 percent of Americans believe it is unconstitutional for Congress to mandate the purchase of health insurance, while 30 percent think requiring health insurance is constitutional.

Legal experts have suggested that if Congress has the power to require individuals to buy health care insurance, it may also mandate that Americans buy broccoli. The Reason-Rupe poll finds 87 percent of Americans believe Congress does not have the power to require the purchase of broccoli, while 8 percent say Congress can force you to buy vegetables.

Reason-Rupe finds 54 percent of Americans think the health care law will result in the rationing of health care services. Half of Americans have an unfavorable view of the health care law, while 32 percent have a favorable view of it. Similarly, 49 percent say the law should be repealed and 36 percent would let it stand.

When it comes to addressing their health care needs, just 23 percent of Americans trust the government. That’s less than half of the 50 percent who say they trust health insurance companies and considerably lower than the 84 percent who trust their doctors.

Two years later, public perception has not changed, yet Obama officials claim that "eventually" Obamacare will become widely popular, which is the same argument that Democrats and Barack Obama made when they passed the bill two years ago against the opposition of the majority of Americans and with absolutely no support from Republicans who, at that time, did not control the House of Representatives, which allowed Nancy Pelosi to jam the bill through, Harry Reid to pass it in the Senate and Obama to sign it into law.

The Supreme Court Court will release audio files and written transcripts shortly after the arguments end each day, which will be available on the Court's web site.

C-SPAN will be broadcasting those tapes on television and through its web site. You can access its page dedicated to the ACA arguments HERE.

As an amusing side show and in an attempt to change the perception of the term "Obamacare", Democrats and Obama's reelection team now claim that they are in favor of the term Obamacare, as evidenced by an email sent out by Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for Obama for America, where she stated "They even assigned the law a moniker that they intended to be a dirty word: Obamacare. Well, we just so happen to love the name. Thanks, guys."

This is a complete turnaround from the last two years where Democrats have referred to the term as "disparaging" in an attempt to ban the use of the word on the floor of the House as well as a failed attempt to stop Republicans from using the term Obamacare in their mass mailings.