Power Play

Dean: Individual mandate 'not really necessary'

Shown here is former presidential candidate and former Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean.

Shown here is former presidential candidate and former Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean.  (AP)

Former Democratic Party chief Howard Dean said Sunday that the so-called individual mandate is "not really necessary" to the federal health care overhaul, and said a Supreme Court decision to invalidate the provision could end up helping President Obama

The Supreme Court met privately on Friday to discuss the case, though a decision is not expected to be made public until June. 

A central challenge in the case was over whether the requirement that Americans buy health insurance is constitutional. Further, the justices heard arguments on whether a ruling against the mandate should invalidate the health care law as a whole. 

The Obama administration argued that, in that instance, a couple major parts of the law that are tied to the mandate would have to go, but that the rest of the law should stand. Opponents of the law say the entirety of the overhaul should be invalidated if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional. 

Dean, though, downplayed the implications for Obama of a landmark ruling against the mandate. 

"The mandate is something that's not really necessary, first of all. If the justices strike it down, it might actually help the president, because the people don't like the mandate," Dean said on "Fox News Sunday." "But if the rest of the bill stays intact, I think it will ultimately be seen as a victory for the president." 

Former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, speaking on the same program, wryly said it would be "interesting" for a former constitutional law professor's "signature law" to be invalidated because it's unconstitutional. 

Meanwhile, Vice President Biden would not entertain the notion of the law or its central component being struck down. 

"I think we should bring the temperature down," Biden said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "We think the mandate and the law is constitutional. And we think the court will rule that way."