This Friday marks the two year anniversary of Obamacare, and next week, the Supreme Court will devote an unprecedented timetable of oral arguments to considering the law's constitutionality. As these critical milestones draw near, a battery of new polling data reaffirms a trend we've been monitoring for years: The president's signature "accomplishment" is deeply unpopular, and most Americans would like to see it repealed. Rasmussen has been polling the repeal question ever since the law passed in 2010, and the "yes to repeal" contingent has never dipped below 50 percent. Today, that number stands at 56 percent, with only 39 percent preferring to keep the law in place. As for the legal controversy, Gallup recently released a survey demonstrating that an overwhelming 72 percent of all Americans believe the law's tent pole -- the individual mandate -- violates the Constitution:
Along these same lines, a fresh Washington Post/ABC News poll indicates that a staggering 67 percent of adults (not even registered or likely voters) hope the high court tosses out either the entire law (42 percent), or at least its core mandate (25 percent). A trifling 26 percent say the believe the court should uphold Obamacare. Overall, support for the law remains underwater by double digits. Fox News' latest survey reflects a similar level of public discontent. Setting aside the Supreme Court's role in the process, 59 percent of respondents told Fox that Congress should move to repeal all or some of Obamacare, while 14 percent say the law should be left alone and 22 percent want it expanded.
When Democrats employed budget trickery and outlandish promises to drag Obamacare's carcass over the legislative finish line, they assured an irate public that the nation would soon come to appreciate the federal government's munificence. We were told that Obamacare's image would be swiftly rehabilitated through a robust re-education campaign, and that over time, even the law's staunchest opponents would rue the day they rejected Obama's panacea. Wrong on all counts. Since its passage, Obamacare has hiked premiums, increased national healthcare spending, and is poised to uproot tens of millions from their preferred coverage plans. As our debt crisis spirals, the law will cost roughly $2 Trillion over its first full decade of implementation -- more than a trillion dollars north of the original, Democrat-concocted sticker price.
A large number of Americans still support several of Obamacare's key tenets, such as guaranteed issue (no denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions) and community rating (government price controls). But if the individual mandate is struck down or repealed while the rest of the law remains intact, the results could be cataclysmic. Private companies would be forced to provide price-controlled "insurance" to all comers, regardless of health status. Absent the individual mandate, people would be permitted to eschew coverage (thus paying nothing), and simply wait until they became ill or injured to obtain "insurance" from companies, who would be legally bound to oblige. This would either (a) cause premiums to spike to "frightening levels," as private insurers would have no choice but to wildly inflate costs for the responsibly insured to compensate for untold future freeloaders, who wouldn't come knocking until they faced costly health needs; or (b) drive the entire private health insurance industry into its grave. If the White House retains the power to veto untenable premium hikes associated with a glut of free riders, insurers simply wouldn't be able to stay in business. This emergency would prompt the Left to renew calls for a single-payer government healthcare system, which has been their goal all along. (Keep in mind that the government-run health programs we currently have in place -- like Medicare, military TriCare, and the Native American health system -- are already woefully under-funded and facing drastic cuts).
In short, Obamacare has already shattered the main promises upon which it was sold. It is totally unacceptable. And yet its partial demise could trigger a series of events that could makes things far worse. The entire law must go, whether by judicial action or legislative repeal. It's also important to recognize that despite being the best and most innovative system on planet earth, America's pre-Obamacare healthcare status quo was far from perfect. Opponents of the president's action must be prepared to replace it with a proactive solution that helps expand coverage and enhance quality while driving down costs. Paul Ryan has put forth a vision for how to make that happen, and it's an excellent baseline for starting over.
UPDATE - Curiously, our president has "no plans" to make formal remarks on the anniversary of his own law. Perhaps he's just weary of repeating an inaccurate anecdote about his own mother's death to help gin up support, a distasteful approach that rears its head again in the hilarious new Obama "documentary." The Washington Post's fact-checker is unimpressed:
In the end, the impression left by the film, especially if you watch it (go to the 8:45 mark), is very similar to Obama’s 2008 campaign rhetoric: His mother was denied health-insurance coverage, draining her resources, and with better coverage she might have lived longer. The film suggests this experience helped inspire the president to keep fighting for the health care law, even in the face of advice from aides that he accept a less-than-satisfactory compromise....Three Pinocchios.
Heartwarming, isn't it?
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography