The president’s very bad week highlighted what’s either wrong or lacking in his politics. Even liberal Democrats are getting frustrated.

Just one week after the bruising battle in Congress that ended in a debt deal that disappointed his base and failed to avert a first-ever credit downgrade for America, Obama lost another court battle over his healthcare legislation.

An Appeals Court panel yesterday struck down as unconstitutional the national health care law mandate that nearly every American buy insurance, the most prominent rejection yet of the key element of President Obama’s signature achievement.

A panel of the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, ruled 2 to 1 that Congress does not have the authority to force people to buy “an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die.’’

The decision conflicts with the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, which ruled in June that the requirement is constitutional because health care is an economic activity that Congress has the authority to regulate under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

The stark disagreement between the two courts means the legality of the law’s centerpiece, the individual mandate, will almost certainly be determined by the US Supreme Court, scholars said.

Here’s some interesting analysis, which puts it more starkly.

A bad week for the White House got worse Friday when a federal appeals court in Atlanta struck down the “individual mandate” portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Whatever else it portends, the 2-1 decision by a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals guarantees that the United States Supreme Court will have to resolve this legal dispute on its merits, probably by next spring. Even if they want to, the justices in Washington won’t be able to duck this one.

You can like it or not, but Cohen’s piece is livelier than most other news items I’ve read on a provocative ruling. But then, I’m a policy and legal wonk…

It took the 11th Circuit 304 pages to announce its findings and conclusions in Florida et al. v. Dept of Health and Human Services: The “individual mandate” provision of the law, which requires the uninsured to buy health insurance, violates the Constitution because it is beyond Congress’ power to regulate such activity. But other provisions of the new law, including its expansion of Medicaid coverage, which also were struck down by a Florida trial judge in January, are permissible. In other words, as bad as this ruling may be for supporters of the Affordable Care Act, it could have been much worse…

No fewer than the first 52 pages of Friday’s opinion offer an “overview” of the facts surrounding the federal law (which, of course, says something about the complexity of the statute itself, regardless of what you think of the legality of it). By contrast, the 11th Circuit needed only the next 14 pages of its ruling to shoot down the notion that states were unlawfully burdened or “coerced” by the Medicaid expansion contemplated by the Care Act. This part of the ruling, which will be underreported over the weekend, is no small thing. It means that this part of the new law, as opposed to the “individual mandate” issue, may come to the Supreme Court with unanimous support from the lower federal courts.

This is why Cohen’s piece is more compelling than others. It parses the ruling and offers color commentary. It’s one you don’t have to be a wonk to appreciate. But it helps…

Finally,the money shot from the Court:

“In sum, the individual mandate is breathtaking in its expansive scope. It regulates those who have not entered the health care market at all. It regulates those who have entered the health care market, but have not entered the insurance market (and have no intention of doing so). It is overinclusive in when it regulates: it conflates those who presently consume health care with those who will not consume health care for many years into the future. That government’s position amounts to an argument that the mere fact of an individual’s existence substantially affects interstate commerce, and therefore Congress may regulate them at every point of their life.”

Then I saw this piece in the New York Times. Which got even more interesting when put in this perspective.

A NYT report on the economic policy thinking inside the White House right now is easily one of the most devastating things you’ll have read about Obama in a long time.

Just the title, White House Debates Fight on The Economy, as if maybe perhaps the sorry economy is something worth getting into a fight over, is sad.

But it gets worse.

As things have, for a while now, for this president and his administration.

Perhaps the most worrisome part is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone at The White House who really grasps the magnitude of the economic problem (and by that, we’re mostly talking about joblessness) who also has a clear idea how to address it.

And the people are getting more doubtful.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....