Is Obamacare Settled Now?
Four years ago, I wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled “Why Obamacare Isn’t ‘Settled’.” In that piece, I said:
A statute or court opinion becomes settled law when there is a broad consensus that it is just. But a more practical rule of thumb is that both political parties must agree on its legitimacy . . . Once both parties agree that something is untouchable, however, only a truly extraordinary effort by citizens can bring about change. In this sense, the parties serve as formidable guardians for the rule of law.
I then pointed out that because Republicans denied that the Affordable Care Act was just, you could not say (as many Democrats were saying then) that the Act was settled law. Then I said:
Will they change their minds? What leads a political party to accept as settled law something it earlier contested? In the past, determined resistance to transformative statutes has shifted only when and if it became clear that standing on principle was doomed to fail. Party leaders either lost power or became very afraid of losing power.
Are we now at that point? Probably. The GOP Congress has by its inaction given its stamp of approval to Obamacare. (Not every detail, of course, but to the basic structure.) Why did they do that? Because enough of them were afraid of losing their seats in the next election.