Republicans have mastered the art of political jujitsu. Their strategy has been to demonize government and seek to privatize everything that might otherwise be a public program financed by tax dollars (see Paul Ryan’s plan for turning Medicare into vouchers). Then they go to court and argue that any mandatory purchase is unconstitutional because it exceeds the government’s authority.All of which, I think, is true. Certainly, the Supreme Court should not object to a payroll tax for an expanded Medicare program that includes everyone, though this one might. Certainly, the public would be behind such a program, because by and large, we like Medicare.
Obama and the Democrats should do the reverse. If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate in the new health law, private insurers will swarm Capitol Hill demanding that the law be amended to remove the requirement that they cover people with pre-existing conditions.
When this happens, Obama and the Democrats should say they’re willing to remove that requirement – but only if Medicare is available to all, financed by payroll taxes.
If they did this the public will be behind them — as will the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, this is never going to happen. I doubt that the President would even try to use it as a campaign issue this year, though I'm usually only wrong when I underestimate the Obama Administration's cynicism. It's not going to happen, because in contrast to what Reich seems to think went on during the health care "reform" effort, what actually happened was that the Obama Administration made a deal with the various lobbies involved, then pushed that deal through Congress. Anyone who recalls Obama's choice of advisors on health care ought to realize that nothing else was going to happen but what did.
So, yes, it would be wonderful if somehow our President woke up one day ready to be the progressive folks like Robert Reich seem to have always dreamed he'd be. That's not going to happen, though. He is what he is, and he is a conservative, maybe as conservative as the last President. He's certainly as effective at advancing a conservative agenda as the last President was.
Dream all you want, that's not going to change. The only thing that will change Democratic Party politics is if they finally have reason to believe they will not again have access to power unless they change. This will not happen until progressives change.