By Teresa Welsh |
Had the Supreme Court struck down the individual mandate, it would have been a blow to President Barack Obama's legacy. Yet their decision to uphold the law creates challenges of its own for the president as he seeks to win re-election this November. In many ways, today's ruling was a lose-lose for Democrats.
The American people are skeptical if not hostile toward Obamacare. A New York Times/CBS News survey from earlier this month found that fully 68 percent of adults wanted the law struck down either in part or in whole. Moreover, Gallup has reported that the percentage of Americans saying the Affordable Care Act is a "good thing" has actually decreased from 49 percent immediately after passage to 45 percent in February of this year. This means that, contrary to the rosy predictions made by Democrats, people have become less likely to support Obamacare as they have learned more about it. That same poll from February uncovered that 72 percent of Americans believed the individual mandate violates their constitutional liberties.
The Democrats passed a very unpopular law on a party-line vote and then successfully defended it in court—now they're going to face the electoral repercussions of forcing policy down voters' throats. This ruling presents Mitt Romney and the GOP with a new rallying cry—attempts to thwart Obamacare by challenging its constitutionality were unsuccessful, but Americans can stop the law from going into effect by electing Republicans who have pledged to repeal and replace it.
Once again, the Democrats have created a contrast that favors their opponents. With this decision, President Obama became the poster child for the nanny state. If the federal government can hit citizens with a tax for choosing not to buy insurance, can it do the same to those who don't eat their vegetables? How about those who aren't members of a gym? The Supreme Court appears to think so; American voters are unlikely to agree.
Today's events open the door for Republicans. The public sees Obamacare as indicative of the liberal ruling elite's addiction to big government. If ever there was an opportune moment to make a winning case for personal freedom, now is it.
About Stephanie Slade Project Director at The Winston Group
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'
Michael Marshall Communications Director to former Sen. Bob Dole
Peter Fenn Democratic Political Strategist