In ancient times, a leader who failed as greatly as Obama has was simply erased from the history of his people. Craftsmen were engaged by his successors in power to chisel his name off of all the temples, (stone) archives, and monuments. The statues that had been erected at the outset of his reign, which had depicted him as a wonderworking colossus, were toppled, and their facial features mutilated to obliterate him from the record and memory.
Some may say that I am being overly optimistic in saying we have reached that nadir of Obama power already, over a year from the next election, but this week establishes in my mind that my assessment is -- barring some great, unforeseen event or sudden, never before seen, infusion of pragmatism and sense on his part -- solid.
Two major political events marked this week: The incredible victory in Wisconsin of the Republican Party and the Eleventh Circuit decision striking down the individual mandate of ObamaCare as unconstitutional.
Wisconsin represents the left's desperate clinging to power and refusal to accept the will of the majority to the contrary. I think as time passes it will stand for the beginning of the end of the grand bargain between Democratic office holders and unions, in which the public treasury was emptied to fill union coffers and those, in turn, were tapped to keep those same office holders in power. That money circle represented the longest running perpetual motion operation I know of, and Governor Scott Walker had to choose between letting his state sink into bankruptcy or fighting for modest changes that were both fair and affordable.
In November, despite a vast union effort and financial contributions, Republican Scott Walker was elected Governor of the state. In April he examined the state finances and initiated sweeping new reforms, most particularly a leaner budget and a new collective bargaining law to rein in union power. Used to getting their way, the unions and their friends on the left engaged in massive protests, 14 state senate Democrats fled the state for three weeks to delay the vote, and when the legislation passed, they tried to overturn the majority will by judicial challenges which failed. They threw massive support as well behind an incompetent candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and lost that plus her ill-considered recount.
Still, they had no intention of gracefully leaving the battlefield on which they had been repeatedly defeated. They instituted recall elections of 6 Republican State Senators. (The Republicans in an effort to protect their majority filed recall elections against 2 Democrat Senators, which for reasons of state law and procedures will not take place until next week.)
The recall did not go well for the anti-Walker forces. Hugh Hewitt:
Organized labor and the Democratic Party which serves the union bosses pumped 30 million dollars into highly publicized recall votes against six Republicans in Wisconsin, and lost four of six as well as the effort to take control of the state's senate. It was the third strike. First they lost the state in the red tide of 2010. Then they lost the attempt to oust Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser. And now they loose their big recall showdown. For heaven's sakes, they sent The Ed Show and still couldn't win!
So, at the end of the first week of balloting, the Republicans maintained a one vote majority in the Wisconsin Senate and, energized by that, they may pick up another one or two seats this coming week when the Democratic recall elections are scheduled to take place.
Professor William Jacobson summed it up neatly:
Never in the field of human conflict have so many been so disappointed so frequently in so short a period of time at so high a cost of money with so few lessons learned.
While the usual Democratic and union spinners tried to paint the recall losses as a victory for their side, their claims are preposterous. Mickey Kaus, for one, threw a bucket of cold water on their efforts:
That's a) in an off-year election where union turnout usually makes the difference b) in famously progressive Wisconsin c) after spending many millions d) with a nationwide media and organizing push e) when labor had a galvanizing issue in Gov. Scott Walker's direct assault on the institutional collective bargaining power of public employees, which led to a dramatic walkout by Democrats."
The Wisconsin victory in bargaining reform inspired a similar effort in Ohio, and elsewhere governors and legislatures are contemplating or actively working on similar efforts to bring down the curtain on the kind of collective bargaining laws which were robbing the taxpayers and state treasuries to feed an ever hungrier , insatiable public union maw, as Wisconsin showed.
By hanging together and staying strong, the Wisconsin Republicans have brought great financial benefits to the state and increased their political power. James Taranto:
Wisconsin Democrats can no longer count on their own state's unions to funnel tax dollars to them, and one wonders if national unions will continue to see this as a worthy investment.
Further, by November 2012 a new redistricting map -- already approved by the GOP Legislature and signed by Gov. Walker -- will be in effect. Perhaps Democrats can take comfort in the knowledge that Barack Obama, who carried Wisconsin by a hair under 14%, will be on the ballot next year.
Then again, given the way things have been going for Obama of late, perhaps not.
As for the voters of Wisconsin, the economic benefits are already apparent and significant:
When, Walker took over the state. Wisconsin taxpayers "faced the fourth largest tax burden in the country, the state carried a $3 billion structural deficit and unions had a monopoly on power." Mike Brownfield of Heritage's The Foundry blog:
As America continues to struggle with unemployment, Wisconsin added a net of 9,500 new jobs in June -- more than half the 18,000 created nationwide. Meanwhile, neighboring Illinois lost 7,200 jobs in June -- and the state's government is pursuing the well-worn liberal path of drastically higher taxes in order to combat crippling deficits. Heritage's Rob Bluey reports on Wisconsin's new-found success:
Wisconsin's resurgence comes after three years of job losses - more than 150,000 jobs were lost in the three years before Walker became governor. Since he took office in January, the state has added 39,300 private-sector jobs. That puts Walker on pace to exceed his goal of 250,000 new jobs in four years.
The Wisconsin story has a good outcome for the voters of Wisconsin and for any state now being bled dry by public employees foolishly granted collective bargaining rights decades ago after then Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson signed the first such law into being. But just as important it stands to bleed many Democratic candidates of the certain union campaign pot of gold and army of free workers.
The Eleventh Circuit to the Rescue
If that wasn't enough to ruin the Obamas ' upcoming vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Friday's decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the challenge brought by twenty six states declaring unconstitutional the individual mandate in Obamacare (and with it, as a practical matter the entire law) should make their time there very gloomy. Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy:
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has just issued a 2-1 ruling striking down the individual mandate in a suit brought by 26 state governments, the National Federation of Independent Business, and others. This is the first court of appeals decision striking down the mandate, and creates a circuit split with the recent Sixth Circuit decision going the other way. The opinion is available here. It's easily the most important victory for the anti-mandate side so far.
Significantly, Judge Frank Hull, a Clinton appointee has now become the first Democratic-appointed judge to vote to strike down the mandate, balancing Republican Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton who voted to uphold it. The decision further undermines claims that the individual mandate suit is a sure loser that goes against a supposed expert consensus that the mandate is clearly constitutional.
It is now extremely likely that the Supreme Court will end up hearing the case, as the Court cannot allow a situation where the mandate is valid in some parts of the country but not in others. I recently opined on the case's prospects in the Supreme Court here.
Of course, this is not the end of the line. There is a split in the circuits and it will go to the Supreme Court, Predictions as to what will happen are divided.
Professor Orin Kerr predicts the Court will uphold the mandate. He has always taken a pessimistic view of the likelihood of a judicial challenge's success, however. Gerard Vanderleun offers up what may be the shortest and most realistic view:
"Is it just me, or could we save a lot of time and money by just sending somebody around to see what Justice Kennedy thinks? "
As for my take, I'm an optimist who likes to have insurance. I have always felt this monstrosity, which the President apparently still considers his signature achievement, will fail in the courts, but I would feel more confident of ObamaCare' s death if only the voters will show Wisconsin's kind of fortitude and throw out the President and his party next year in time to repeal the law before it does even further damage to our wheezing economy.
The language of the Eleventh Circuit opinion is as compelling as it is devastating to Obamacare supporters:
...if the government can impose this kind of "economic mandate"-if it can force individuals to enter contracts with private companies "from birth to death"-there are no longer limits on what it cannot do. "These types of purchasing decisions are legion," Judges Hall and Dubina write.
"Every day," they continue, "Americans decide what products to buy, where to invest or save, and how to pay for future contingencies such as their retirement, their children's education, and their health care. The government contends that embedded in the Commerce Clause is the power to override these ordinary decisions and redirect those funds to other purposes."