In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling upholding Obamacare, Republicans have signaled that they will renew the push for full repeal of the law — and party strategists are quoted far and wide claiming this is a certain political winner for them. Time will tell whether they’re right. But there are a few angles on this story worth considering:
1) The core GOP talking point for the post-SCOTUS battle is false. Now that SCOTUS has designated the mandate a “tax,” the GOP argument, repeated far and wide, is that Obamacare represents the largest tax hike in history. Ezra Klein debunks that one right here. Worth watching: How many reporters and news orgs will call this one out each time it appears?
2) Polling does not show that Americans support full repeal. The Mitt Romney/Republican position is full repeal of Obamacare. They would blow up the law entirely — period, full stop. Their position is not “full or partial repeal.” Yet polling has steadily shown negligible public support for nuking the law completely. Gallup on Friday found that only 31 percent of Americans, and 23 percent of independents, support full repeal.
Yes, Gallup also found that a majority favor full or partial repeal. But what does it mean to favor repealing unspecified parts of the law? This could reflect dissatisfaction with the individual mandate, or generalized unhappiness with the law — and yes, the overall law remains unpopular. But to favor partial repeal is not the equivalent of supporting getting rid of the law entirely — rather, this position may represent support for keeping the law and making changes to it.
I’d like to hear from public opinion experts on this one. But my bet is that many who favor only repeal of parts of the law basically support sticking with the law, even if they don’t like it, on the understanding that it will be fixed later. It’s my bet that the GOP push to refight the battle to get rid of the law entirely a third time won’t be well received by indys and moderates. And it’s becoming clearer that the SCOTUS decision is forcing Republicans into a discussion of the law’s specifics — far less favorable turf for them.
3) The GOP push for full repeal highlights the untenability of Romney’s position. The simple truth is that the arguments Obama/Dems and Romney use to defend their mandates are identical. That’s why you don’t see Romney charging that Obama’s mandate is a tax hike. There is no way this fight can be waged without drawing attention to the core absurdity here: If Obama’s mandate makes him a massive tax hiker, the GOP presidential nominee’s mandate makes him the same.
* Romney’s big health care quandry: Indeed, Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy reports that Romney supporters are struggling to figure out whether Romney can turn Obamacare into a major issue without saying what he’d replace it with, and what they should do about that his own plan was a national model for it. As Conroy reports, given these obvious problems, the Romney camp is understandably still undecided about the degree to which he should talk about the issue at all.
* Dems going on offense over health reform in Congressional races: Also relatedly, the DCCC is launching a new robocall hitting 10 vulnerable Republicans over their vote to repeal Obamcare. The script charges that each of the targets
wants to put insurance companies back in charge of our health care and let them deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, heart disease and cancer, cut back your health benefits, throw some kids off their parents’ insurance, and roll back prescription coverage for seniors.
The new campaign reflects the broader by Dems to refocus the battle on the specific reforms Republicans would take away from people, now that the overall law has been enshrined as Constitutional. Republicans seem convinced that the SCOTUS decision is a winner for them in down-ticket races; more on this later.
* Dems still need better messaging on health reform: Michael Hirsh argues that Dems still need to do a better job of selling the virtues of what’s actually in the law. That very well may be; I’d say this is a separate question from whether Dems should engage this fight.
* But GOP struggling with message, too: As Michael Falcone notes, both sides are very clearly having trouble with the battle over whether the mandate is a tax, with Republicans simply refusing to engage on Romney’s mandate. Keep an eye on how Republicans deal with Romney’s tax.
* The truth about Romney and outsourcing: Post fact checker Glenn Kessler digs into the history and makes a pretty good case that it’s unfair of the Obama campaign to directly charge that Romney’s Bain outsourced jobs. However, Kessler also dings the Romney campaign for claiming that the companies Bain invested in — which became pioneers in moving jobs overseas — actually created jobs in the United States.
* Why the Bain attacks are working: E.J. Dionne gets to the heart of why the negative impact Obama’s attacks on Romney’s Bain years matters:
This is disturbing news for Romney, who hoped his business experience would be an unalloyed asset. The numbers also underscore voter resistance to the core conservative claim that job creation is primarily about rewarding wealthy investors and companies through further tax cuts and less regulation. Americans are not anti-business, but they are skeptical that everything that is good for corporations is also good for their employees, and for job creation itself.
People keep claiming that the Bain attacks are all about painting Romney as a heartless plutocrat, but they’re about a lot more than that: They are designed to undermine Romney’s whole case for the presidency.
* SCOTUS ruling on Medicaid could impact millions: The most important read of the weekend: Robert Pear and Michael Cooper report that at least half a dozen Republican gubernatorial administrations may exercise their newfound right under the SCOTUS ruling to refuse to expand their Medicaid programs in their states.
Dems remain confident that these states will opt in, but there may be intense pressure from the right on them to keep Obamacare at arm’s length wherever possible, even if it means millions of their constituents go without health insurance as a result.
* GOP lawmakers urge Romney to distance himself from Bush: An interesting dynamic: Republicans think Romney should (respectfully) criticize Bush’s record on spending, in order to distance himself from a president who is still blamed by the American people for the state of the economy.
Of course, this might open Romney up to a question: Cutting taxes on the wealthy didn’t produce runaway growth and broadly shared prosperity last time we tried it. Why would things be different this time?
A Very Serious, chin-stroking pundit argues that what we really need is a political leader willing to concede that while the economy needs short-run stimulus, we also need to address long-term deficits, and that addressing those long-term deficits will require both spending cuts and revenue increases. And then the pundit asserts that both parties are to blame for the absence of such leaders. What he absolutely won’t do is endanger his centrist credentials by admitting that the position he’s just outlined is exactly, exactly, the position of Barack Obama.
Krugman, of course, is talking mainly about his Times colleague Tom Friedman, though plenty of others fit the mold.