It's All Up to the Voters Now

It's All Up to the Voters Now

By Carl M. Cannon and Tom Bevan - June 29, 2012

Before anyone had time to even read Thursday's lengthy Supreme Court decision narrowly approving the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the passions and furies of the losing side were unleashed.

One quick consensus, expressed by both liberals and conservatives, was that by upholding Obamacare’s controversial individual mandate on a 5-4 margin -- but only on the grounds that it fell under Congress’ power to tax -- Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s four-member liberal bloc had handed Republicans a weapon they can use from now until November.

“So Obamacare,” Rush Limbaugh nudged his audience, “is nothing more than the largest tax increase in the history of the world.”

“John Roberts is an evil genius,” lamented liberal Cardozo Law School instructor Robert E. Malchman.

And in a hastily called press conference a few blocks from the Supreme Court building, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee broke it down to its campaign trail essence: “If we want to get rid of Obamacare,” Mitt Romney said, “we’re going to have to replace President Obama.”

Yet winning is almost always better than losing. And so it is with Thursday’s Supreme Court decision. This was a much-needed political victory for Obama. The high court not only saved his signature domestic policy achievement, but it snapped the string of bad news the president has experienced over the last few weeks.

In White House remarks shortly after the court’s ruling, a clearly pleased president declared the decision “a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.”

Obama reiterated the litany of benefits included in the law -- free checkups and mammograms, kids staying on their parents’ health plans until age 26, prescription drug subsidies for seniors, automatic coverage for pre-existing conditions -- and said that while he didn’t push the law because it was “good politics,” he remains confident Americans will come to appreciate it.

“When we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now,” he said, “we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.”

This is the case the president will continue to make to voters between now and Election Day. But of relevance right now is how Americans -- specifically, swing voters in swing states -- will feel about this issue when they go to the polls about four months from now.

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Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Editor of RealClearPolitics. Tom Bevan is the Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics. They are co-authors of the new eBook series, The RealClearPolitics Political Download.

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