Overturning health care: Worse for Romney or Obama?


(CBS News) On "Face the Nation" Sunday, CBS News political director John Dickerson suggested that if the Supreme Court this week rules President Obama's health care law to be unconstitutional, the political fallout could disadvantage presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney the most.

Should the High Court (which may announce its decision as early as Monday morning) decide to overrule Mr. Obama's signature health care law, "It's bad for the President," Dickerson told Bob Schieffer in a roundtable discussion. "This was the thing he banked everything on."

But Dickerson added that, as governor, Romney "was for the individual mandate in Massachusetts. He talked about the uninsured as if he were a bleeding-heart liberal. 'So, what are you going to do about that group now, governor?'

This creates for Romney an instant moment, Dickerson said, "where he now has to get specific: 'So, what are YOU going to do? is the question." Dickerson said this could pose a problem for Romney, whom he described as someone who has "not been too specific about much of anything."

"And it gets into a fight where it's now a choice between his plan for the future and the President's plan for the future, and that's a fight the President wants to have," Dickerson added. "If he can get through this bad news, the President gets into a debate with Mitt Romney, that might actually not be so great for Mitt Romney.".

Norah O'Donnell, CBS News chief White House correspondent, agreed, citing Republicans' use of the health care law as a rallying cry.

"If the Supreme Court strikes down the individual and employer mandate and also takes out the coverage for those with preexisting conditions, you could make the argument that it neutralizes the issue in some ways for Republicans," she said. "Politically, it might be better for the President, because then he can put the onus back on the Republicans to say, 'Okay, Mitt Romney, you've said you wanted to repeal it and replace it. What are you going to replace it with?'"

TIME Magazine's Joe Klein warned the round table that they may be "jumping the gun" in discussing outcomes of law that may not be overturned. Still, he added, "If it is, that's not a good thing for the President."

But Dan Balz, chief White House correspondent for the Washington Post, predicted little would change politically if the law were overturned.

"People made up their minds what they think about this bill almost irrespective of what the court decides on it," he said. "I think also that the energy on this issue has always been on the side of the opponents. And I suspect that almost no matter what happens this week, that's likely to be the case going into November."

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