Retiring Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) — the most conservative Democratic senator, and the member of the caucus who held out longest before voting for the Affordable Care Act — warns that if the Supreme Court throws out the law, it’ll put the country on the road toward single-payer health care.
“Many expect an activist Supreme Court will strike down part or all of health reform,” Nelson said in a prepared statement. “If they strike down the mandate, the Supreme Court will be paving the way to a single-payer system, or back to the old broken health care system — neither of which are good for Nebraskans.”
Nelson was skeptical of the approach Democrats took toward reforming the health care system, and his hesitance nearly tanked the party’s efforts multiple times in 2009. But since his retirement announcement, and particularly since the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the ACA, Nelson’s become an unlikely champion of the law.
It’s worth mentioning that his analysis of the consequences of an adverse Court decision is the same as single-payer supporters’, which advances the idea that if the Court voids the ACA, conservatives like Nelson will over time reluctantly warm toward single payer as the only viable approach to the unsustainable status quo.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.