The Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the individual mandate, the key part of President Obama’s health care reform, may be a victory for the Obama administration, but it could have negative implications for some down ticket races– particularly with regards to several Democrats in tight Senate contests.
The court decreed that the mandate could stand as part of Congress’ power under a taxing clause, meaning that the government does have the power to tax people for not having health insurance. The ruling also means that the debate surrounding the controversial plan is going to continue to roar, and a battle cry will likely emerge from those who oppose it to put leaders in office who are dedicated to the bill’s repeal.
Republicans have already begun the narrative that the way to repeal the Affordable Care Act going forward will be to get rid of Obama, and this will likely trickle down to Congressional races as well, particularly with regards to the Senate, where Republicans need a net gain of just four seats to gain a majority.
Several Democrats in competitive races where the law is unpopular and/or where Romney is expected to win today are tip-toeing around the subject, or staying quiet.
“Now that the court spectacle is over, it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to put partisan politics aside and get down to business to find true cost containment solutions before we bankrupt the country,” said Nebraska’s Democratic Senate candidate Bob Kerrey in a statement.
“I for one am confident I can work with Republicans to find common sense solutions that begin with establishing State based exchanges and supporting exciting initiatives by providers to lower costs and improve quality.”
Kerrey is in a tough race against state Sen. Deb Fischer, and recent polls have shown him trailing.
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana was more supportive in his statement–he did say he was pleased with the decision–but he also highlighted the need to improve upon the bill.
“I’m pleased the Supreme Court has validated Congress’ work to ensure access to health care for all Montanans.” Tester said in a written statement. “Today’s ruling doesn’t mean this responsible, constitutional law can’t be improved. But it is an important step forward in the fight to fix a broken system and hold big insurance companies accountable to Montana families.”
Tester faces a close race against Montana House Rep. Denny Rehberg. Both men are seeking to project independence– neither of them are attending their respective party’s conventions this summer.
Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill has so far not commented on the ruling. She faces a tough re-election campaign in the fall and outside groups have already begun using her support for the Affordable Care Act in ads against her.
To be sure, there are a great many factors in each state that will play an equally, if not more important, role in voters’ minds this fall. But today’s ruling, it appears, has not alleviated the political concerns associated with the law that have followed Democrats in some of their contests.