On Thursday the Supreme Court upheld most of President Barack Obama's healthcare legislation, including the contentious individual mandate provision which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance. The ruling leaves Obama's landmark accomplishment largely intact, but may also provide an unintended boost to Republicans.
Immediately following the decision, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney raised $4.6 million in online donations from over 47,000 donors. He released this campaign video, outlining the negative economic impacts of the law. In remarks following the decision, he pledged to fully repeal Obamacare if he were to be elected, calling the bill a "job killer."
"What the court did not do on the last day of session, I will do on my first day as president of the United States, that is to repeal Obamacare," Romney said. "Our vision is clear, if we want to get rid of Obamacare, we are going to have to get rid of President Obama."
The Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate was constitutional not under the Commerce Clause, as the Obama administration had argued, but rather as a tax. Republicans are using this portion of the decision to call the healthcare bill "the largest tax increase in history."
Portraying it as a tax increase allows Republicans to continue to slam the president for the lackluster economy and accuse him of pursuing policies that burden Americans and stunt job growth. With disappointing employment numbers in May, the president has been struggling to fend off such criticisms of his handling of the economy, making the healthcare victory even more central to his re-election campaign.
The Obama campaign has declined to release donation totals after the Supreme Court announced their decision, instead slamming Romney for releasing his hourly fundraising totals but not "shar[ing] details about what he'd do for the millions he'd leave uninsured or at the whims of insurance companies when he 'kills Obamacare dead.'" Although they didn't give specific amounts, the Obama campaign did say they outraised Romney in the time following the decision.
U.S. News's Mark Davis says both Romney and congressional Republicans can capitalize on the Supreme Court's ruling. Romney must emerge as a leader and keep his message on the economy.
The rest of the Republican Party must go further on healthcare. This means getting past reflexive negativity and partisan fist-waving. A vote alone to repeal Obamacare will not win voters or appeal to independents. Why? A kind of issue exhaustion has set in on criticism of Obamacare.
What is needed now is for Republicans to make a vivid contrast. Congressional Republicans should spell out the "replace" part that follows "repeal" to draw on the well-crafted ideas on healthcare coming out of libertarian and conservative think tanks.
However, U.S. News's Peter Fenn thinks the upholding of the healthcare law is a historical moment for Obama:
This may do for Barack Obama what the Cuban Missile Crisis did for President Kennedy—a real win that demonstrated leadership at its best. It took courage, perseverance, and patience, when many urged just the opposite. It took vision and the ability to work through a complex series of choices and possible outcomes to pull people together when a lot hung in the balance.
Republicans believed that this would be Obama's Waterloo, and 50 years ago they believed Kennedy could not stand up to Khrushchev. But at the end of the day this may prove to be not Waterloo, but D-Day, not capitulation but strength.
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- Read: Supreme Court Ruling Helps Both Obama and Romney
- Read: GOP Sees Tax Opening in Obama Court Win
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