Even though Team Obama and the Democrats are celebrating today’s Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, numerous arguments can be made that this decision is actually bad news for President Obama’s re-election prospects. Chief among them is the Supreme Court has re-branded Obamacare as a tax.
Harken back to President Obama’s September, 2009 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos where Obama vehemently denied that the health care individual mandate was a tax. Look for sound bites from this landmark interview to appear any minute now in Romney’s campaign ads.
From a Romney campaign perspective, the best aspect of this ABC interview is when President Obama “refused to accept the argument” that a mandate to buy health insurance is equivalent to a tax.
President Obama may have “refused to accept the argument” then, but now that Chief Justice Roberts has had the last word, Roberts just wrote Mitt Romney a new campaign bumper sticker:
Obama Lied – The Health Care Mandate Is A Tax.
Now, we all know that Obamacare is unpopular. Just how unpopular? According to the latest Rasmussen poll, 54% of likely voters favored its repeal vs. 38% who opposed. For Governor Romney the good news of this poll concerns all the money, time and energy President Obama must spend between now and Election Day defending and selling his signature program.
As a result of today’s ruling, Republicans and many Independents have been energized into a frenzy. So then is Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod quoting Japanese Admiral Yamamoto who, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor famously said, “I am afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant” as the Japanese high command was celebrating the surprise attack? If not, he should be, for this Supreme Court decision is filled with many positive unintended consequences for Romney.
Besides an energized opposition, another positive unintended consequence is all the money pouring into the Romney campaign. Furthermore, Governor Romney now has an issue that will completely define his presidential campaign which at times seems like it is in need of a little more defining.
The ruling today will also have an adverse effect on the economy at large. Besides the stock market’s negative reaction, small and large business owners from coast to coast will continue to avoid hiring additional employees because of Obamacare and its unknown costs. Obamacare many argue, hurts job creation and Romney has even more reason now to make this issue his non-stop campaign mantra.
So even though President Obama may be celebrating a victory at the White House his campaign headquarters in Chicago surely knows this Supreme Court decision is a minefield that must be carefully cleared.
Remember, no president in his right mind wants his signature program to be associated with, or to be an excuse for, a new tax. But that is where Team Obama is today.
The Obama campaign might be wise to recall the 1984 Walter Mondale acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention when Mondale said:
“Let’s tell the truth. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did”.
Mondale badly lost the 1984 election against Ronald Reagan and historians point to that statement as a chief reason. In fact, that statement is the one with which former Vice-President Walter Mondale is most closely associated.
Similar to Mondale, President Obama in order to be reelected must defend a tax increase, indeed, one that the Supreme Court has now defined as a tax increase — doubly onerous because it funds a program that has grown increasingly unpopular since its inception.
Which means for both Obama and Romney, today is the beginning of the rest of the campaign.