It's a good point, made better by his willingness to speak in that forum. Nineteen months into the economic recovery, we're still dealing with anemic growth and 9 percent unemployment.
But if the president and the rest of Washington want business to start hiring again, they'll need to do more than issue stern words, lacking legal effect. They need to resolve one of the biggest hold-ups right now to growth and hiring: the uncertain outcome of health care reform.
The last thing the economy needs right now is this ongoing uncertainty. And whether one is for or against the health care law, everyone should want a prompt resolution of the outstanding issues so we can either get whatever benefits are to be had and know what it will cost, or know that we will avoid the costs associated with the reform -- but not continue to wonder which it will be and when.
While congressional efforts at repeal are likely to be fruitless, at least until after the 2012 elections, the question of constitutionality is now a bona fide one, and is likely to linger through U.S. Supreme Court adjudication.
U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson's scholarly opinion should demonstrate to all concerned that, contrary to the initial reactions of program proponents, constitutional challenges aren't frivolous and resolution of the challenges will require detailed analysis of legal authorities.
But a final resolution will likely take more than a year. The appeals court probably won't consider Judge Vinson's ruling for several months, and whichever way that court decides, there will be a review petition to the Supreme Court. Once the high court gets the case, which could also take several months, we would expect at least six months for briefing and oral argument to be followed by three to six months for a decision.
While some have suggested the extraordinary step of bypassing the Court of Appeals, there appears to be little interest in such action in the Supreme Court itself, even assuming that it would be legally possible.
We can, however, speed up the process and get to a final resolution faster. Here are the steps I think will help get us there:
- Drop repeal efforts in Congress, which are causing public confusion and are destined either to be vetoed or rendered moot if the constitutional challenge is sustained.
- Consolidate all court cases addressing the constitutional issue into one, in order to expedite review by the Court of Appeals and hasten consideration by the Supreme Court.
- Get the parties to the remaining court case, to the extent permissible, to stipulate as to all factual issues and to the framing of all legal issues, in order to expedite the work of the Court of Appeals.
- Get the parties to petition the Court of Appeals to expedite its review to the extent possible, in an effort to get the case on the Supreme Court's fall 2011 term.
- Stay all implementation efforts at both state and federal levels, in order to avoid ancillary proceedings as to the legality of any particular action, as well as wasted money if the law is struck down, and expedite resolution of the ultimate legal controversy.
If it does, let's let people count on the benefits and governments get busy with the herculean task of implementation.
If this is not to be the case, let's remove the new tax burdens from the analysis of economic decision-makers and allow resources to be definitively recommitted elsewhere.
Either way, let's get it resolved as soon as possible.