Today's Supreme Court ruling has two angles. The smart angle -- ably covered on today's podcast by Lawyers Yoo, Epstein, and Freedman below -- and the political angle.
Which is sort of up for grabs. So I'll start.
This is good news for Romney. Obamacare is now the central issue of the campaign, and it's not popular. In addition, it's a tax -- according to befogged Chief Justice Roberts -- which nobody likes.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney reacted Thursday to the Supreme Court upholding President Barack Obama’s health care reform law by flatly saying, “If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to replace President Obama.”
“As you might imagine, I disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision and I agree with the dissent,” Romney said from a Washington, D.C., rooftop with a view of the Capitol in the background. “What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare.”
Romney argued that “Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, it’s bad policy today. Obamacare was bad law yesterday, it’s bad law today.”
So to me, and others, it looks like "Advantage: Romney." But there's another side to consider. David Frum in the Daily Beast:
First, today's Supreme Court decision will make it a lot harder to elect Mitt Romney. President Obama has just been handed a fearsome election weapon. 2012 is no longer exclusively a referendum on the president's economic management. 2012 is now also a referendum on Mitt Romney's healthcare plans. The president can now plausibly say that a vote for the Republicans is a vote to raise prescription drug costs on senior citizens and to empower insurance companies to deny coverage to children for pre-existing conditions. Those charges will hurt—and maybe hurt enough to sway the election.
Second, even if Republicans do win the White House and Senate in 2012, how much appetite will they then have for that 1-page repeal bill? Suddenly it will be theirtown halls filled with outraged senior citizens whose benefits are threatened; their incumbencies that will be threatened. Already we are hearing that some Republicans wish to retain the more popular elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Which means the proposed 1-page bill will begin to grow.
I'm not convinced. I think that Obamacare is just one more way for Romney to clobber Obama -- it's unpopular, after all -- and it doesn't muddy the message at all. It amplifies it. President Obama has raised your taxes, spent your money, spent your grandchildren's money, and has nothing to show for it.
How hard is that to say?