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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.
Romney has already been in action. They raised $1 million in the hours after the ruling was handed down. And his language has been robust. From the Daily Caller:
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?
Mitt Romney.Published in General
This all depends on how Romney’s team plays the “Romneycare” analogy — and analogy it is, as Romney’s first defence was that there is a universe of difference between State health care and National health care. This all happened during the primary season, and we can thank the primary opponents for giving the issue it’s first round — this will blunt the force of Obama’s arguments in the election and perhaps give Romney some momentum.
I am fairly impressed with Romney’s team this time around. Smartest messaging team on the GOP side in recent memory. But their strong care is knowing when not to react. Will this be a strength or weakness in this case? If Obama plays up the ObamaCare/RomneyCare comparison it will be critical that Romney launches a rapid and strong response laying out what distinguishes them. There is little evidence that he or his team has a strong card here.
Worse, while his “jurisdiction” defence worked during the primaries, I think it was weak there, and may be insufficient in a general election. Obama’s team has had months to analyse this defence. But switching tack now could be a disaster for Romney.
Obama care was a big part of the 2010 election. It was likely the sole reason that we have a Republican Senator in Mass.
Obama just lost his fake claims as a “tax cutter”.
This can do nothing but help Romney. It will hopefully fully unite the right behind Romney. There is no one else that can remove Obama Care now.
I’ve been a Romney backer for a while. I was previously hopeful he would win this fall. Sadly, I think it’s going to be a huge uphill battle for him now, and Obama will likely get relected. (No fault of Mitt). No matter what we tell ourselves here, people will listen to the MSM and hear “it went to the Supreme Court, and they said no problem”. To use that popular meme, “Game’s over, man”!
I wonder if anything politically, smart or otherwise, can be made from ObamaCare, or shall I say the ObamaTax, having originated in the Senate, rather than the House, in conflict with Article 1, Section 7, of the US Constitution, and the fact that it steals billions and billions from medicare.
The Court has ruled that the Law was Constitutional they did not rule that it was a good idea. Just because Congress has the right to do something does not mean the public has to like it.
Short term gain for Obama although it helps Romney in the long run.
Horrible news for the country as I don’t think the GOP will get the 60 seat majority in the senate they would need to overturn it. Romney can give states waivers all day long but that won’t stop the law from accelerating the demise of our country.
If anything, it will have a “break-even” effect, because of added energy to limit government. No? Wishful thinking? Too much choir, not enough preacher?
Like the saying midnightgolfer, and sadly yeah, I think it’s wishful thinking. The relentless message of the MSM will be “Why is Mitt Romney being so mean and unreasonable?” :(
The MSM has been cheer leading Obama Care since before its passage. This has not made the law any more popular.
I would love to be handling the political ads for Romney – particularly after the fiasco of the Obamacare decision: “Obama promised he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class (play clip of Obama); Obama insisted the mandate wasn’t a tax (play clip of Obama). Today the Supreme Court approved the largest tax increase ever on the middle class by upholding Obamacare’s mandate as a tax!” If the polls showing that support for repeal of Obamacare enjoys a healthy majority are correct, support for Romney – particularly in light of his immediate pledge to get rid of Obamacare – should skyrocket. Plus, Obama has already established the next president’s authority to invalidate Obamacare: just like Obama’s recent directive on immigration policy, Romney could simply direct his HHS director to cease implementation of Obamacare, and direct his IRS director not to enforce (or collect) the penalty for failure to pay for the mandated “tax.”
Sadly, I agree with Frum.
But I also agree with whoever it was on Fox News this morning who said it helps Romney that he now has the Supreme Court’s backing in accusing Obama of raising a tax — a tax on poor and middle class Americans, at that.
As an aside, I love the title Rob. Being a Latin student right now I love to see people using it. It’s not a dead language!
Love that first sentence! Thanks for the much-needed chuckle.
“Befogged” seems charitable. If I understand his opinion correctly (and yes, I concede that’s a huge “if”), the individual mandate as a “penalty” was struck down as unconstitutional on the grounds that the government cannot compel a private citizen to buy something, namely, health insurance…or broccoli. Or health club attendance.
But as a tax, the “mandate” IS constitutional because it’s a “tax,” on a private citizen for NOT buying something, namely, health insurance.
Well, then, by duh, doesn’t it stand to reason, using that befogged logic, that the government could constitutionally tax a private citizen for not buying…broccoli? And for not going to the gym?
Did I misunderstand Roberts’ opinion, or is he blatantly talking out of both sides of his mouth?
re: Frum’s argument that it’s equally a referendum on Romney’s plan, that was going to be even more the case if the Court had struck it down. This has made it about Obamacare first and Romney’s plan second.
Obama 2012: You’ll like Mitt Romney’s health-care plan even less than mine!
And if it had been overturned, the MSM would be telling those same people how dastardly is the SCOTUS and that Obama needs to be re-elected to thwart those evil conservatives (that argument was already used by the MSM, because they thought Obamacare was going to be overturned).
I’m not any more worried about the MSM’s influence on the electorate today than I was yesterday.
My gut instinct when I first saw the results was that the “tax, not a mandate” thing was absolutely terrible politically for Obama and for the law and makes full repeal more likely. We’ll see.
Also, which in the long run would serve as a greater deterrent to comparable government overreach? A 5-4 court decision overturning it, or two elections throwing out the party that passed it in order to repeal it?
Final thought: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I wish the whole thing had been struck down. But while we didn’t get the bird in the hand, it did increase, perhaps significantly, our chances of getting the two in the bush.
Most likely, this helps Obama. The average low-information looks at the Supreme Court as a grand tribunal that pronounces on whether laws are “good” or “bad,” and that grand tribunal has just declared Obamacare good.
I think a huge selling point — aside from the fact that Obamacare is very unpopular and, I believe, those who favor it don’t favor it as strongly as those who don’t like it — is HOW it was passed. Despite Charles Krauthammer’s argument at NRO that Roberts perhaps feared overturning this law would be high-handed because it was “passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President,” this law was not passed in the usual manner. Indeed, it was rammed through by questionable tactics (originating in the Senate, no less) against strong and growing public opposition. This was no ordinary legislation passed in any ordinary way whatsoever, a fact I believe Romney should emphasize and use.
After today, sending in a campaign contribution to a garden gnome looks good.
Krauthammer’s stating that it was “passed by both houses of Congress” is disingenuous at best. If he wanted to be informative he’d have said instead that “it was passed solely by Democrats.” THAT is the more relevant fact.
I never thought I’d be more pessimistic than Rob, but now I am. Let’s not sugarcoat this–this is a disaster for the nation, and it gives Obama a boost just when his fortunes were looking very low indeed. I think it’s a net positive for the Left, because most of the people who will be against Obama because of ACA have already taken that position. The ones who aren’t decided are voters who aren’t paying much attention to this issue anyway.
However, in another sense this doesn’t change much, electorally speaking. Our task is still the same–to defeat the Left–and we won’t do that without persuading more people that liberty is more important than government largesse. It was tough to do that before this ruling, and it will be tough going forward, but that doesn’t change our mission.
Someone rightly pointed out that it keeps Obamacare in the realm of political decision-making rather than judicial. The decision also sets a limit on Federal mandates to the states. Yes, states have to follow, but the federal government cannot threaten to take away funding. Moreover, if it’s mandated and there is a funding provision attached, that provision is now a tax…in other words, toxic to politicians. Definitely something to think about there.
I get a funny feeling that Roberts outsmarted all of us and somehow has just put a cage around Congress.
Boy, Mr. Frum is working very hard to come up with that one. It is “throw granny in her wheelchair off the cliff” writ large. Competent Republicans find a way to present a coherent systemic message.
It is almost as strident and over-the-top as the “Our World Has Ended! Drink Your Hemlock” comments that dominate every thread here today.
Has Obama just been deprived of his “Millionaires and Billionaires” catchphrase?
Maybe so, in which case I’m slightly less pessimistic than my last comment. There is a liberal author who agrees with you on Slate: “Obama Wins the Battle, Roberts Wins the War” and the more conservative Sean Trende has an interesting comparison with Marbury vs. Madison here.
Frum is completely wrong in his analysis. First of all, those senior citizens that Frum says are going to erupt, already did so in the summer of 2009 against the ACA. Now they are going to do the same to keep it?
The ACA cuts medicare already as part of its CBO scoring sleight of hand. Seniors are going to storm Republican townhalls, why exactly? To stop Congress from stopping a law that cuts that Medicare drastically?
His analysis makes no sense in light of recent history and current public opinion polls. This is a definite leg up for Romney. I’d be surprised if Romney doesn’t move up in the polls after this.
This is not the end. This is the end of the beginning.
I wish I’d thought of that line :)
Although I think the end of the beginning was November 2010. We’re right in the middle now — not to D-Day, but well after the Battle of Britain.