Though yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on the Obama administration's signature health care reform law is likely to continue to dominate several more news cycles, there are already signs that the landmark decision may be merely a footnote to this November's presidential election.
The court's decision to uphold the most controversial aspect of the law - the individual mandate - had Democrats hailing the ruling as a "win" and Republicans denouncing it in the sharpest possible terms.
But even though presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney expressed his displeasure with the ruling on Thursday, the court's decision left him with one of his favorite stump speech punching bags.
"What the court did not do in its last day in session," Romney said. "I will do on the first day as President of the United States. And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare."
President Obama, on the other hand, said in remarks at the White House that it was time to "move forward."
"I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That's how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington," Obama said. "But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today's decision was 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."
But with a recent Gallup poll showing that only six percent of Americans said healthcare was the most important problem facing the country compared to a combined 56 percent who said that either the economy, in general, or unemployment was their biggest concern, it was not surprising that the president pivoted away from health care as he closed his remarks.
"Now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time," Obama said, "putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead."
And while Democrats celebrated on Thursday, Republicans argued that they had even greater reason to rejoice.
"This decision will drive Republican voter intensity sky-high," said Steven Law, president and CEO of the GOP super PAC American Crossroads. And former Alaksa Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted, "Thank you, SCOTUS. This Obamacare ruling fires up the troops as America's eyes are opened!"
But whatever temporary gain by either side, here's the one statistic we keep coming back to from a June 22 Gallup poll showing just how polarized (and potentially immovable) public opinion has been on the health care law:
"Gallup polling on the topic shows Republicans have overwhelmingly negative views of the healthcare law, and Democrats, overwhelmingly positive. Specifically, 71 percent of Democrats said it was a good thing the law passed and 81 percent of Republicans said it was a bad thing in Gallup's most recent update. Independents' views have been more variable, though more often than not they have tilted toward opposing it." http://bit.ly/MzgBUO
THE FALLOUT: ABC's Jake Tapper and Terry Moran discuss the landmark Supreme Court decision on "Good Morning America" today. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/MEgyqi
TICK TOCK: HOW THE PRESIDENT HEARD. From ABC's Jake Tapper at the White House:
President Obama was just outside the Oval Office Thursday morning when he got the news - erroneous, as it turned out - that the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down the individual mandate in his signature health care law, deeming it unconstitutional. Standing with White House chief of staff Jack Lew and looking at a television in the "Outer Oval" featuring a split screen of four different networks, the president saw graphics on the screens of the first two cable news networks to break the news - CNN and Fox News Channel - announcing, wrongly, that he had lost.
Senior administration officials say the president was calm. A couple minutes later, White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler came to Outer Oval and gave him two thumbs-up. Ruemmler had gotten the correct information from a White House lawyer at the Supreme Court and from SCOTUSblog.com. "The Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the court," Ruemmler told the president, a senior administration official recalled. "There were five votes finding it valid under Congress's taxing power." There was some "cognitive dissonance" given what was on the cable news screens, an official said. The president hugged Ruemmler, officials recalled. He then called Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli to congratulate him. http://abcn.ws/MVQOpP
ABC'S RICK KLEIN: Chief Justice John Roberts took the very long view in crafting a ruling like an umpire who knows he has plenty of innings left on the field. But his fellow Republicans are playing for keeps now - and he's given them a fresh reason for exuberance in congressional races, if perhaps not at the presidential level. When the euphoria clears for Democrats, those in tight races will have more to answer for than if the health care law was gone. The congressional battle is the only one left now, meaning the question of whether candidates would support repeal - of everything including a brand new "tax" - is newly relevant going into summer.
A WORD FROM BILL BURTON: "Romney has made deceptive attacks on the President's health care law a central part of his stump," said Bill Burton, the head of the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA in response to the 2008 debate clip, "but just a few years ago Romney bragged about the big tax penalty in his health care plan."
FLASHBACK: OBAMA SAYS INDIVIDUAL MANDATE IS NOT A TAX. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that President Obama's health-care law is constitutional because the "individual mandate" - the penalty individuals must pay for not buying health insurance - can be considered a tax. As Congress crafted the law, there was some dispute over whether or not to consider the mandate a "tax" or a "penalty." In an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos back in September, 2009, President Obama maintained that the mandate was not a tax. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/LDz6rR
A LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. "[While] the law's mandate may pass legal muster, it remains unpopular. And as part of the decision to uphold the law, Chief Justice John Roberts may have made it even more toxic, determining that it was a tax," wrote The Huffington Post's Sam Stein and Ryan Grim. "Policy experts said they remain concerned about components of the legislation, including looming cuts in Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers, while Democrats have exhibited general wariness with championing it on the campaign stump. Democrats won today's battle, but the war over health care remains unsettled. 'I'm politically glad,' said Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman. 'I think the fact that the Supreme Court legitimized it and the charge was led by John Roberts makes it much harder for Republicans. I feel like it would be hard to run around and scream about socialism when John Roberts voted for the bill.' … 'It doesn't end the discontent' with the health care system, said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). 'I knew when I voted for this bill, it was a first step - not nearly satisfactory in many ways - but a first step, and a major first step.'" http://huff.to/MZEHX6
THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK": VICKI KENNEDY, JACK LEW, PAUL RYAN. Vicki Kennedy, the widow of former Sen. Ted Kennedy, a driving force behind the push for health care reform, speaks exclusively with George Stephanopoulos Sunday on "This Week," in her first interview following the Supreme Court's landmark ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act. Plus, White House chief of staff Jack Lew and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., react to the Supreme Court's blockbuster decision to uphold President Obama's signature piece of legislation, and discuss what happens next in the battle over health care reform.
And the "This Week" powerhouse roundtable debates the Supreme Court's key health care and immigration decisions and all the week's politics, with Keith Olbermann, ABC News' George Will, Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, and "Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran, who covers the Supreme Court for ABC News. Tune in Sunday: http://abcn.ws/MFkZCB (h/t ABC's Imtiyaz Delawala)
THE WHOLE PICTURE: HOW ABC NEWS COVERED AN HISTORIC DAY. On Thursday morning ABC News broke into coverage to air a special report anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos to report that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. Diane and George also talked to ABC's senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper, senior political correspondent Jon Karl, and David Muir who covers the Romney campaign during the special report. ABC senior medical contributor Dr. Tim Johnson and Dr. Jennifer Ashton provided reaction on how this ruling affects American's access to health care. ABCNews.com had a continuously updated live blog. And when President Obama and Mitt Romney reacted to the ruling, ABC once again interrupted programming to broadcast a second special report. All that plus complete coverage on "World News," "Nightline," and this morning on "Good Morning America." A LOOK BACK AT THE DAY'S COVERAGE: http://abcn.ws/LxBPP3 (h/t ABC's David Ford)
With ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield )
WHAT THE COURT SAID. ABC's Ariane DeVogue and Matt Negrin get into the nitty-gritty of yesterday's decision: The court ruled 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the majority, that the mandate is unconstitutional under the Constitution's commerce clause, but it can stay as part of Congress's power under a taxing clause. The court said that the government will be allowed to tax people for not having health insurance. "The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the ruling. "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness." http://abcn.ws/ MFERmg
COULD REPUBLICANS REALLY 'REPEAL AND REPLACE'? Yahoo!'s Chris Moody reports that repealing the law won't happen before January 2013. It would be dependent on a triple Republican victory this November: Mitt Romney would need to defeat President Barack Obama, Republicans must hold their majority in the House, and they must also gain enough seats in the Senate so they have at least 50 of their own in the upper chamber. What about the filibuster? Don't you need 60 votes to do anything in the Senate? Not in this case. Because Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion ruled the individual mandate a "tax," a Republican-led Senate could repeal that provision-and others-using what is called "budget reconciliation," a procedural tactic that requires only a simple majority vote. http://abcn.ws/MWZLze
BY THE NUMBERS: HOW MUCH IS THE MANDATE TAX? DOES HEALTHCARE REFORM LEVY A $500 BILLION TAX? A lot of numbers questions popped up yesterday after the court's ruling, and ABC's skilled number crunchers - Chris Good, Shushannah Walshe, Daniel Steinberger and Devin Dwyer - ran some figures. With regard to the mandate, the health care law sets out a formula to determine your penalty , which will be assessed and collected by the IRS as part of your federal income taxes. The penalty will be the greater of a flat dollar amount per person, OR a percentage of your taxable income. For dependents under 18, the penalty is half the individual amount. http://abcn.ws/LwTR42
As for that $500 billion tax, as well as the charge that it cuts Medicare, the Romney campaign's explanation for why Obamacare is rife with taxes is testimony from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that the ACA will raise approximately $500 billion in taxes over its first 10 years. According to the CBO, this claim is right…Medicare spending will continue to grow, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but ACA will slow that growth. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Health Foundation over the next 10 years, the federal government will devote about $500 billion less to Medicare than it would have without ACA. MATH LOVERS, READ MORE: http://abcn.ws/N8UBfT
IN OTHER NEWS: HOUSE HOLDS ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER IN CONTEMPT. After a bitter partisan debate, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding certain documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation, reports ABC's John Parkinson. Led by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 108 Democrats skipped the vote, storming out of the chamber in protest. The measure passed 255-67, with one member voting "present." Seventeen of the Democrats who didn't walk out voted with the Republican majority to hold Holder in contempt of Congress. Two Republicans, Reps. Steven LaTourette of Ohio and Scott Rigell of Virginia, opposed the resolution. The vote marks the first time in the history of Congress that it has found a sitting U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress. http://abcn.ws/ MVY9pp
COUNTER-PROGRAMMING: WHITE HOUSE CALLS CONTEMPT VOTE 'TRANSPARENTLY POLITICAL STUNT.' Yahoo!'s Olivier Knox reports, The White House denounced the Republican-led House of Representatives vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, accusing President Barack Obama's foes of looking to score political points. Obama communications director Dan Pfeiffer accused Republicans of opting "for political theater rather than legitimate Congressional oversight" after serving notice earlier this year that one of their top goals was "to investigate the Administration and ensure that President Obama was a one-term President." http://abcn.ws/ L7uITQ
SCOTUS STRIKES DOWN STOLEN VALOR ACT. ABC's Lee Ferran reports, the Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, saying that the First Amendment defends a person's right to lie - even if that person is lying about awards and medals won through military service. The case started in 2007 when California man Xavier Alvarez was convicted under the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 - federal legislation that made it illegal for people to claim to have won or to wear military medals or ribbons they did not earn. Alvarez had publicly claimed to have won the country's highest military award, the Medal of Honor, but was later revealed to have never served in the military at all. http://abcn.ws/MX2NDG
IS THE HOUSE REALLY IN PLAY? A fresh look at November battlegrounds from Stuart Rothenberg of The Rothenberg Political Report: "While Democrats continue to insist that the House is 'in play' in November, a dispassionate assessment of individual districts in all 50 states suggests Republicans remain solid favorites to retain control of the House in November's elections. The Democrats' difficulties are magnified by President Obama's growing problems, including weak job numbers over the past three months and softening economies in Europe and Asia. … Some national surveys have found Democrats with a large advantage in the generic ballot, but the surveys with the best reputations suggest a Democratic advantage of one to three points, not much different from in the summer of 2010. We find little evidence of a 'wave' election developing, and that means Democrats would have to cherry-pick themselves to a gain of 25 seats, an almost impossible challenge. Democratic retirements and some weaker than expected candidates in places like California and Pennsylvania have limited the party's upside potential, forcing Democrats to defeat nearly two dozen GOP incumbents if they are going to net enough seats to re-install House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as the next speaker. That said, Democrats still have reason to hope that Republicans will sound too partisan or extreme over the next few months, alienating swing voters and giving ammunition to Democratic candidates." http://bit.ly/NahM9s
BACK TO HEALTH CARE…
STATES FACE A CHALLENGE TO MEET HEALTH LAW DEADLINE. The New York Times' Kevin Sack and Reed Abelson report: "The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act shifts the focus from whether sweeping changes to the health insurance market should take place to a scramble to meet the law's rapidly approaching deadlines. A number of largely Republican-led states that gambled on delay now face the unsettling prospect that the federal government could take over their responsibilities, particularly in setting up the health insurance marketplaces known as exchanges, where people will be able to choose among policies for their coverage." http://nyti.ms/ MFnPrb
ROMNEY SUPPORTERS SEE AN OPENING. The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty and Nia-Malika Henderson report: "If conservatives needed any more motivation to unseat President Obama, they got it Thursday from the Supreme Court, which provided fresh political opportunities for Mitt Romney even as it handed the president a legal victory. Chief among those new lines of attack is the court's determination that the law's individual mandate - the penalty it would impose on people who refuse to buy insurance - amounts to a tax. Obama had previously insisted it was 'absolutely not a tax increase.'…'Politically, this was not a bad result for Governor Romney,' said Steve Schmidt, who was a top strategist for 2008 GOP nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.). 'There is no chance there will be a dissipation of intensity in the Republican base. It guarantees a united and intense Republican base.'" http://wapo.st/LHe4ud
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-RON PAUL TO HOLD 'MAJOR' RALLY AHEAD OF TAMPA CONVENTION. A Thursday night announcement from Ron Paul's presidential campaign: "2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul will hold a major rally with thousands of supporters ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. The event will take place at noon on Sunday, August 26th at the University of South Florida's 11,000-seat Sun Dome. Yesterday the Ron Paul campaign signed a contract to secure the venue with the approval of the Republican National Committee."
@shearm : The Republican message machine on Thursday was no accident, and it was largely guided by the Romney campaign. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/28/romney-campaign-unleashes-coordinated-response-to-court-ruling/
@nytjim : California's foie gras ban begins Sunday. In preparation, liver lovers are going on a bender. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-foie-gras-farewell-20120629,0,3881642.story
- Mitt Romney heads to Buffalo, NY for a fundraiser.
- President Obama flies to Colorado to assess the damage from the wildfires that have been raging in that Western United States.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV