“The court has declared that President Obama can have the federal government use its powers of taxation to compel behavior, and that’s one of the most frightening legal aspects of this decision,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said in a conference call with reporters that was arranged by the Republican National Committee. “It really raises the question, what’s next? Taxes on people that refuse to eat tofu or refuse to drive a Chevy Volt?”
The attacks drew a sharp response from the White House. In a memo to Capitol Hill Democrats, titled “Winning the Middle Class Tax Battle,” Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, insisted that the health-care law will lower costs for millions of families. He cited projections estimating that less than 1 percent of the population would forgo health insurance and may be subject to federal penalties.
“Republicans in Washington are trying to deliberately misrepresent the President’s record of cutting taxes for the middle class,” Plouffe wrote. “We welcome this debate . . . and we urge you to seize this opportunity to go on offense.”
The back-and-forth suggested that health care will continue to resonate into the fall, with both sides rallying their troops with extensive fundraising appeals and new television advertisements.
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign reported that it raised more than $4 million in the 24 hours after the ruling, which has mobilized grass-roots conservative activists who had been cool on Romney in the GOP primary. And American Crossroads, a conservative super PAC, announced that it will launch a national ad campaign on cable television hitting Obama on the health-care ruling.
“Now it’s official: Obama increased taxes on struggling families. The middle class takes another hit,” the ad says.
The Republican Party is betting that November 2012 will be a redux of November 2010, when backlash against the health-care law helped sweep a wave of tea party Republicans into the House, delivering the speakership to Rep. John A. Boehner (Ohio).
“I think the Supreme Court’s ruling may have awakened a sleeping giant,” said Ron Christie, a Republican strategist. “Obama may have won the battle in the Supreme Court, but the war is yet to be waged for November.”
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said that the president’s reelection team also enjoyed a surge in fundraising after the health-care ruling, though he declined to be specific. In an fundraising e-mail on Friday, senior campaign adviser David Axelrod recalled his daughter Lauren’s near-fatal battle with epilepsy that began 30 years ago and, he said, nearly bankrupted his family because of their “lousy” health insurance.