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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Celebrate ACA Ruling, While GOP Spills the Whine

Here comes the “See, we told you Obamacare was nothing but a big tax” whine from Republicans, coupled with more angry pledges to “repeal Obamacare.” It’s really the GOP’s only option, given Chief Justice John Roberts’s ruling that the Act’s provision requiring all Americans buy health insurance is not a mandate; it’s a tax, fully authorized by the Constitution.
As a tax, it’s small ‘taters in comparative terms. The Congressional Budget Office estimates for the cost of the ACA are in the $94 billion per year for the first ten years range, less than the tax cuts for the wealthy that Congress passed during the Bush administration. And let’s not forget that the $94 billion doesn’t take into consideration all of the financial benefits of a healthier population. Republicans are going to have a very tough sell with the “big tax” argument.
Looking at it another way, American consumers spend an estimated $75 billion per year on soft drinks — and that figure doesn’t include additional hidden costs, such as expensive health care problems, like tooth decay, obesity-related illnesses and diabetes.
So what are the Republicans going to do? Run against Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Obama? Even the most optimistic general election scenarios don’t include the GOP emerging from November with the 60 Senate seats needed to stop a filibuster. Even if they did, do they really want to drag the American public through another excruciating and protracted debate about health care, particularly since they have no alternative plan.
What they are going to do about it is whine for a couple of months to gin up wingnut animosity, until they realize that the value added in terms of votes is close to nil. They’ll trot out the repeal pledges every now and then for an applause line from their knee-jerk ideologues. But they know that the voter mobilization potential of a repeal campaign is very limited from now on.
In the heated debates ahead about repealing the ACA, Dems should always point out that the law was approved by a super-majority, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court and the opposition has no alternative plan. More importantly, the ruling provides cause for celebration, and not just because of the political victory for President Obama. As Andrew Rosenthal puts it in his New York Times blog, “The Affordable Care Act will provide insurance for tens of millions of working people and it will eventually help rationalize and bring down the costs of health care for everyone.”

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