Democrats at all levels were out in full force on Sunday, arguing that the intense scrutiny of the 2010 health reform law by the Supreme Court last week doesn’t mean the outcome will be as bad as some court observers predict.
Vice President Joe Biden echoed previous statements made by the White House when he said on CBS’ Face the Nation that he fully expects the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the Obama administration. “I think we should bring the temperature down,” Biden said. “No one has made any money betting an outcome of cases based on the oral arguments and the questions asked.”
Biden said he was confident the court will uphold one key but controversial tenet of the law, the requirement for Americans to obtain health insurance. “We think the mandate and the law is constitutional. We think the court will rule that way,” Biden said.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who runs Senate Democrats’ messaging and policy shop, also cautioned that the oral arguments in a Supreme Court case are not necessarily a bellwether for the final outcome.
“I've been on the Judiciary Committee for 30 years in the House and the Senate. And one thing I’ve learned, you can’t tell by questioning as to how the Court is going to rule,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
Even former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean weighed in, saying that if the Supreme Court were to rule the individual mandate unconstitutional, it may not be the blow some are heralding.
"The mandate is something that's not really necessary," Dean said on Fox News Sunday. "If the Justices strike [the individual mandate] down it might actually help the president, because people don’t like the mandate. But if the rest of the bill stays intact, I think it'll ultimately be seen as a victory for the president."
Schumer said Americans will appreciate the law more once more of its provisions go into effect in 2014. “As the good things become more and more known, the law becomes more and more popular,” he said.
Biden noted that while Republicans promise to repeal and replace the law, they haven’t given a hint of what they might replace it with. “What this is really about is the Republican alternative, which is what? They are going to continue, no matter what the Supreme Court does, to go after trying to eliminate or strangle this law,” Biden said.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., echoed Biden’s concerns later on ABC’s This Week.
“I think if this court were to strike this down, we have to ask our Republican colleagues for the ‘replace’ half of what had been ‘repeal and replace,’” he said.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaking on the same show, countered Van Hollen’s claims, saying that Republicans have offered proposals that present “a decentralized market-based system that's patient-centered.” Ryan’s budget proposal passed in the House this week would gradually convert Medicare into a voucher-based system.