Why The Supreme Court Decision Could Be A Win-Win For Mitt Romney (The Note)

Credit: M. Spencer Green/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • DOES ROMNEY WIN NO MATTER WHAT? Sure, a Supreme Court decision today that is favorable to the Obama administration would provide a boost to the president's argument that passing health care reform was "the right thing to do." But, it's really Mitt Romney who stands to benefit the most from the ruling. If the Court decides the law is constitutional, Romney will continue to tout his "repeal and replace" rhetoric. If, on the other hand, the court rules against the administration, Romney gets some more ammunition for a favorite line from his stump speech - that the president has been a failure.
  • TUNE IN/CLICK ON: ABC NEWS SPECIAL COVERAGE: When the Supreme Court delivers its decision just after 10 a.m. today ABC News will air a special report anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. ABC News will stream an extended special report online at ABCNews.com with additional insight and analysis. ABC's team of reporters will be live-blogging throughout the day and will be using the hashtag #HealthCareABC on Twitter. ABC News Digital will publish a special series of videos throughout the day to cover "After the Ruling: Health Care in America." Stephanopoulos will also host a special edition of "George's Bottom Line" for the Power Players series on Yahoo! News. In addition ABCNews.com will produce a series of videos from Dr. Richard Besser, Terry Moran, and Jake Tapper with analysis on the medical, legal, and political fallout from the Court's decision. ABC's Supreme Court LIVE blog: http://abcn.ws/LCYKgj
  • SCENES FROM THE SUPREME COURT STEPS: A dispatch from ABC's Terry Moran: "Talking with some of the people outside the Supreme Court this morning - the curious, the neighbors, those who slept out all night to get a seat inside the courtroom for the ruling - I'm struck by something polls show, too: Most people don't know what's in this healthcare law. For millions of Americans, today will be the day they find out what 'Obamacare' really is - or was, as the case may be."
  • ALWAYS A GOOD TIME TO FUNDRAISE: Obama campaign manager Jim Messina sent out a morning fundraising message to supporters: "We don't know what will happen this morning. But no matter what, today is an important day to have Barack Obama's back. If you're with him, donate now - before this week's critical fundraising deadline."


Regardless of what today's Supreme Court decision on the Obama Administration's signature health care law means for public policy, we already know how Democrats and Republicans are going to frame it politically.

"This is a decision, by the way, about whether or not Obamacare is constitutional," Romney said at a campaign event in Sterling, Va. yesterday. "And so we're all waiting to see how the court will decide. One thing we already know however - we already know it's bad policy and it's got to go."

Romney, who earlier this week declared that President Obama's three-and-a-half years in the White House would be "wasted" if health care reform is struck down by court, outlined two possible scenarios and two possible responses.

"If the Court upholds it - if they say, 'look it passes the Constitution,' it still is bad policy and that'll mean if I'm elected we are going to repeal and replace it," said Romney, who spoke to a notably energetic crowd of hundreds at an electrical manufacturer. "If on the other hand the court strikes it down, they'll be doing some of my work for me, I won't have to repeal it, but I still will have to replace it, and I will."

In offering his assessment, Romney showed why the Supreme Court's ruling this morning on the Affordable Care Act could be a win-win for him. If the Court decides the law is constitutional, Romney gets to continue to use it as major Bogeyman in his campaign to defeat Barack Obama. As he previewed last night, he will continue his calls to repeal "Obamacare" between now and November. If, on the other hand, the court rules against the administration, Romney not only gets to say, 'I told you so,' (as long as voters are willing to turn a blind eye to his record in Massachusetts) but also gets to put an even finer point on a favorite line from his stump speech - that the president has been a failure.

The Obama administration may have a tougher go of it.

At a senior center in Davenport, Iowa yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden said, "If we can't fill the doughnut hole because they get rid of the health care law, how is that going to save your kids money?"

"It isn't," he noted. "There is going to be a big decision on this."

And, earlier this week, President Obama said, no matter what happens, "I believe health reform was the right thing to do."

"I believe it was right to make sure over three million young people could stay on their parent's health insurance plan," the president said. "I believe it was right to provide more discounts for seniors on their prescription drugs I believe it was right to make sure that everybody in this country gets decent health care and is not bankrupt when they get sick."

If it is unfavorable to the administration's position, today's ruling could puncture a major hole in the president's legacy, but it's not clear that it would hobble him politically. Still, at a time when the White House and the Obama campaign are looking to tout some good news, a ruling to uphold the law would be a boost.

FLASHBACK: ROMNEY 'VERY, VERY PLEASED' WITH INDIVIDUAL MANDATE. Just in time for today's decision, researchers at the Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, dug up some video of then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney from a March 2006 press conference in which he expressed his support for the individual mandate provision of the health care plan he backed in the state. Romney said: "With regards to the individual mandate, the individual responsibility program that I proposed, I was very pleased that the compromise between the two houses includes the personal responsibility mandate. That is essential for bringing the health care costs down for everyone and getting everyone the health insurance they need." American Bridge uncovered the video while digging through the Massachusetts Archives. WATCH: http://bit.ly/KOvMe3


ABC's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's AMY WALTER: So will this decision change the political calculus many campaigns are making about how health care plays with voters? The best place to look for clues right now is in North Dakota where Republicans have been hammering Democrat Heidi Heitkamp for her support of Obama's health care law (even though she wasn't even in Congress when it passed). Her response: A straight-to-camera discussion of her own battle with breast cancer was a pretty potent rebuttal. If the law is overturned, will this line of attack lose its punch? Or will the term "Obamacare" continue to be politically toxic, especially in ruby red states like North Dakota?

ABC's RICK KLEIN: This is as big a day as we'll see in politics for a while. But it's not a classic winners-and-losers type of day. A divided, partisan court tossing out or affirming a partisan law won't reflect well on anyone - Democrats or Republicans - with a Washington, DC, mailing address. Republicans would cheer a ruling that affirms their views, but the light will bring heat: If they get all or part of the law tossed out, recall the old "Pottery Barn rule" - you break it, you own it. It won't be enough to chant "repeal," not when the lack of a new law will hardly fix the underlying problems in the health-care system.

MORE SPECIAL COVERAGE: ABC News will have comprehensive team coverage of the Supreme Court's historic ruling on President Obama's signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act. http://abcn.ws/OuRg0E

-"Nightline" anchor TERRY MORAN, who covers the Supreme Court, will break down the meaning behind the decision as well the impact the historic ruling will have on America's perception of the country's highest court.

-Chief political correspondent GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS and senior White House correspondent JAKE TAPPER will report on the potential political impact the ruling will have the President's bid for re-election - will this be a tipping point in the race for the White House?

-ABC News chief health and medical editor DR. RICHARD BESSER will discuss how the ruling will affect American families and their access to medical care.

-"World News" weekend anchor DAVID MUIR will be in Los Angeles to get real-time reaction from families, doctors and business owners affected by the ruling.


by ABC's Chris Good

Health care has always elicited complex polling trends, back to the early days of health reform when some respondents didn't like Democrats' project, while also protesting that it didn't go far enough. As the Supreme Court considers Obama's law, a few contradictions have been ironed out, but the public's views are still complicated. We know one thing for certain: When asked about the law as a whole, poll respondents don't like it.

Beyond that, things get murky. Respondents don't like the current system, but they feel good about the quality of care they receive. The latest poll shows support for Supreme Court repeal, but other surveys have been less certain. Still, other respondents don't want Mitt Romney or Congress to repeal the law. As pollsters question respectable samples in the weeks after today's decision, we'll find out what the public really thinks. Below, the current data:

THE LAW IS UNPOPULAR, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE STATUS QUO? ABC News pollster Gary Langer on the latest, June 20-24 ABC/Washington Post poll: Americans are equally dissatisfied with the current health care system and with the federal law intended to improve it - suggesting that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on that law will by no means end the country's sharp political debate over health care policy. Just 36 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll express a favorable opinion of the health care law under Supreme Court review. But ratings of the health care system as it currently stands are about as weak, 39 percent favorable. That means that while the intended fix is unpopular, so is the status quo - leaving the public still in search of solutions. One key challenge is that while Americans are broadly dissatisfied with the system overall, vastly more - 75 percent - rate their own quality of care favorably. The difficulty thus remains where it's been all along: Forging solutions to the current system's problems that don't leave people fearing they'll lose what many see as their own good quality of care now. http://abcn.ws/LCkbhu See a PDF with full results, charts and tables: http://bit.ly/LCkmcB

SUPREME COURT: PUBLIC WANTS THE LAW OVERTURNED … OR DOES IT? The latest poll on the topic, taken by NBC/Wall Street Journal, was released this week. NBC's Mark Murray explains: "In the survey, 37 percent say they would be pleased if the Supreme Court finds the law unconstitutional, versus 22 percent who say they would be disappointed with that outcome. On the flip side, 28 percent say they would be pleased if the court rules the law is constitutional, compared with 35 percent who say they would be disappointed." http://on. msnbc.com/Ozwqys

April polling from CBS, meanwhile, showed more respondents wanting the Supreme Court to keep at least some of the law. http://cbsn.ws/LS9GVz

Keep the entire law: 23%

Overturn mandate/but keep law: 29%

Overturn the entire law: 37%

Don't know/no answer: 11%

MORE ON THE FUTURE OF THE LAW. Other polls have been less conclusive. Pew Research Center (June 7-17) found that a plurality will be unhappy with every possible outcome (uphold the law, overturn the mandate, overturn the whole law), but that independents would be happy with total repeal, by a margin of 50 percent to 44 percent, while they'd be unhappy with upholding any part of the law. http://bit.ly/MqXaiA

The Kaiser Family Foundation's May polling, meanwhile, asked what respondents would like Congress to do. More want to keep the law or expand it. http://bit.ly/LCj3dS

Expand the law: 27%

Keep law as is: 20%

Repeal law and replace with Republican-sponsored alternative: 18%

Repeal law and not replace it: 21%

EVERYTHING BUT THE MANDATE IS POPULAR. As has been the case in previous polls, the latest one shows that respondents dislike the individual mandate, while supporting the requirements that insurance companies grant coverage to more people. In May, the Kaiser Family Foundation polled on specific provisions:

-"The law will require nearly all Americans to have health insurance by 2014 or else pay a fine" 30% favorable, 70% unfavorable

-"The law will require nearly all Americans who don't have health insurance as of 2014 to get it or else pay a fine." 31% favorable, 68% unfavorable

-"The law allows children to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26." 71% favorable, 26% unfavorable

-"The law gradually closes the Medicare prescription drug 'doughnut hole' or coverage gap so seniors will no longer be required to pay the full cost of their medications when they reach the gap." 78% favorable, 18% unfavorable

-"The law will prohibit insurance companies from charging women higher premiums than men." 61% favorable, 36% unfavorable

-"The law will expand the existing Medicaid program to cover more low-income, uninsured adults." 66% favorable, 32% unfavorable

-"The law will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person's medical history." 60% favorable, 36% unfavorable

-"The law will place a limit on the amount that insurance companies can charge older people compared to younger people." 52% favorable, 41% unfavorable

PUBLIC LUKEWARM ON BOTH PARTIES, ROMNEY. From the June NBC/WSJ poll: 41 percent said the Democratic Party "would do a better job … dealing with health care," while 28 percent said the Republican Party would do a better job. http://bit.ly/N4wa3h ABC/ Post polling in May found respondents split, 40 percent vs. 40 percent, on Mitt Romney's call to repeal health care. In the April ABC/Post survey, 48 percent said Obama would do a better job "dealing with health care policy," while 38 percent said Romney would do a better job. http://abcn.ws/LCkbhu

AIR WAR: PRO-OBAMA SUPER PAC UNVEILS NEW AD. The pro-Obama super PAC, Priorities USA Action, released their newest ad this morning focusing on how Mitt Romney made money when companies bought by his private equity firm, Bain Capital, went bankrupt: "Over Romney's time as a corporate buyout specialist, eight companies went bankrupt. While over 14,000 workers lost their jobs and benefits, Romney came out ahead. On average, Romney made $92 million per bankruptcy. The ad, 'Briefcase' is the fifth in a series of a $10 million campaign running on television and online in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The first four ads, 'Heads or Tails,' 'Loris,' 'Donnie,' and 'Stage' have been airing since early May." WATCH: http://bit.ly/LD7jHQ and the super PAC's accompanying website: www.RealRomneyRecord.com


With ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield )

WHAT WILL ACTUALLY HAPPEN THIS MORNING? ABC's Supreme Court watcher Ariane DeVogue sets the scene: Dressed in their black robes, the nine Supreme Court justices will emerge from behind regal red curtains this morning at 10 a.m. to solve one of Washington's biggest mysteries: the legal fate of the Affordable Care Act. Until today, the Supreme Court justices and their clerks have kept their opinion in this case a secret, frustrating politicians and pundits who are confounded by a government branch that doesn't leak. Today, the majestic courtroom will be filled with lawyers, congressmen, health care advocates and members of public interest groups.

NO BLACKBERRIES, smart phones, cameras or videos. Audio of the proceedings will only be released next fall at the start of the next term. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who argued the case for the government, will more than likely be in the audience, as will some of the lawyers who represented the 26 states challenging the law. Two benches will be reserved for some of the media, who will be armed only with pen and paper.

AT 10 A.M. Chief Justice John Roberts will announce the first of three cases expected to be released. (Besides health care, the court will render a decision on a real estate case as well as a case dealing with military honors.) The justice who wrote the opinion will begin reading a synopsis, and then if there is a dissent, that too might be read from the bench. It's expected that those two decisions will be read before the health care decision. http://abcn.ws/ MrY5iI

REFRESHER COURSE: What's actually at stake today? Check out this rundown of the Affordable Care Act in 60 seconds. http://abcn.ws/LDAMDD

THE PREDICTIONS… What kind of decision will SCOTUS hand down? Though no one can be certain, predictions abound. ABC's Meghan Kiesel and Jillian Fama have compiled a rundown of the various guesses. http://abcn.ws/LPl42N


SLEEPLESS IN THE WHITE HOUSE? ABC's Emily Friedman reports that on the eve of the Supreme Court's decision Mitt Romney bounded into the battleground state of Virginia and predicted a sleepless night in the White House. "[It's] very clear that a big decision is coming tomorrow for the Supreme Court," said Romney at a raucous rally in northern Virginia this evening. "My guess is they're not sleeping real well at the White House tonight. That's the way it ought to be." http://abcn.ws/LDXj34

THE LINE STARTED TO FORM OUTSIDE THE COURT YESTERDAY. ABC'S Serena Marshall reported, with only 18 hours remaining until the Supreme Court rules on one of the most controversial issues facing the Justices - Obamacare - a small line has already formed outside the court. The line may only currently be four people long, but as time gains on the decision the line is expected to grow. During the healthcare debates the line to gain access began Friday before the Monday start of the three-day event. http://abcn.ws/LujIJN

RULING HAS WASHINGTON AWAITING HISTORY. The Washington Post's Michael E. Ruane reports: "In the shade of a Japanese maple, beside a plot of purple petunias and pale sweet william, Carol Anderson and Laura Brennaman set up camp outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday to get seats for the big decision. Anderson, of Williamsburg, brought, among other things, a comforter, a framed picture of the Virgin Mary and a rosary. Brennaman brought a reclining chair, some of her students' papers to grade, and a tuna lunch pack. They were part of the anticipation as Washington, teeming with summer visitors, awaited the outcome of one of the most momentous and far-reaching court cases in years. http://wapo.st/Ms0cmA

SIMPLE QUESTIONS FOR A COMPLEX LAW. The New York Times John H. Cushman Jr. reports: "The Supreme Court is expected to announce on Thursday morning its decision on the health care overhaul that President Obama signed into law in 2010 - an act of Congress thousands of pages long, containing hundreds of changes costing hundreds of billions of dollars and affecting nearly every American from cradle to grave. But the nine justices are expected to answer only a few principal questions, stemming from a handful of conflicting lower court decisions. Although the arguments are complex, the questions are fairly straightforward." http://nyti.ms/LvFmgL

OBAMA, JUSTICE ROBERTS LEGACIES INTERTWINED. The Wall Street Journal's Carole E. Lee and Jess Bravin report: "President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts both came of age in the aftermath of liberalism's political heyday. Both earned Harvard law degrees and rose to prominence as relatively young men. That's where the similarities end. Having chosen opposing ideological paths, they have since come into conflict. Then-Sen. Obama voted against confirming Mr. Roberts to join the court as chief justice in 2005 and has been openly critical of decisions the court has made, irking the chief justice." http://on.wsj.com/ Mr7QOm

HOUSE TO HOLD CONTEMPT VOTE FOR ERIC HOLDER TODAY. ABC's John Parkinson reports from Capitol Hill: After a last-ditch appeal by the White House fell flat Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Wednesday morning that he will proceed on a vote Thursday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for withholding certain documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-walking operation. "The United States government ran a gunrunning operation that has resulted in hundreds of deaths," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "Brian Terry's family has a right to know what happened. The American people have a right to know what happened and we're going to proceed." http://abcn.ws/ QkersZ

OBAMA TO VISIT COLORADO FIRE AREAS. President Obama announced that he will travel to the fire-plagued areas of Colorado this Friday to "view the damage and thank the responders bravely battling the fire," according to ABC's Jon Garcia. Obama told Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach about his plan to visit in a phone call Wednesday afternoon. Obama called Hickenlooper and Bach "to receive an update on damaging fires that are impacting a number of communities across the state, including the devastating Waldo Canyon fire that is affecting families, homes and businesses in Colorado Springs," the White House said in a written statement. http://abcn.ws/ L2xc60

TONIGHT'S ROMNEY FUNDRAISER AT ONE OF WORLD'S MOST EXPENSIVE HOMES. ABC's Shush Walshe reports, while the will he or won't he speculation continues around whether Mitt Romney will appear at a Thursday fundraiser with Donald Trump, he is expected appear at one later that evening at the same location: the penthouse at the Pierre in New York City. The private home in the tony hotel belongs to stock investor and financial analyst Martin Zweig and his wife Barbara. The Zweigs put it on the market in 2004 for $70 million, making it the most expensive private home in the country at the time. http://abcn.ws/M5yYD1

VEEP BEAT: ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz) rounds up all the action on the #veepstakes front:

CHRISTIE NOT ASKED TO BE VEEP…YET: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared at a fundraiser with Mitt Romney Tuesday evening, but the New Jersey governor told constituents at a townhall Wednesday that the Republican nominee didn't extend a VP offer when they saw each other, ABC News' Shushannah Walshe reported. "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Mitt Romney didn't offer him the number two spot at a fundraiser they appeared at together on Tuesday," Walshe wrote. "At a town hall in Mahwah, N.J. Wednesday he said to laughs, 'I was with Gov. Romney last night. Let me announce that he did not ask me last night to run for vice president while I was with him.' 'Listen, I have absolutely no idea,' Christie said about being Romney's vice-presidential pick. 'My view has always been that I want to stay here and that I want to do this job and I don't want to leave, but what I've also said is if the nominee of your party calls and asks you to talk about that, you take the call and you listen because you have to care about your country and listen to the guy who is one of two people who is going to be President of the United States for the next four years. So if Gov. Romney calls and asks me I'll listen. I don't expect to get the call, I don't expect to be asked.' http://abcn.ws/LD4Xcc

AYOTTE DEFENDS ROMNEY ON RUSSIA: Sen. Kelly Ayotte rose to Romney's defense Wednesday, arguing that his foreign policy stances are not backwards and do not harken back to the age of the Cold War, CNN reported. "New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, an early and ardent backer of Mitt Romney, defended the presumptive GOP nominee against accusations his foreign policy is backwards looking Wednesday, saying critics who label his views reminiscent of the Cold War were wrong.'I've spent a lot if time with Gov. Romney. I think that he has a strong understanding of foreign policy, and he does not have a Cold War view toward Russia,' Ayotte said after delivering a keynote address to a conference examining democracy in Russia," CNN's Kevin Liptak wrote. http://bit.ly/QqvY2F

RYAN FACING TERM LIMIT: If not chosen as Romney's VP, Rep. Paul Ryan will encounter a hurdle come January when the six year term limit on him as House Budget Committee chairman runs out, The Hill reported. "House Republicans face a dilemma in keeping popular and influential conservative Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Under GOP rules, Ryan, who has been the committee's lead Republican since the 2006 elections, is limited to six years as committee chairman or ranking member and would need a waiver to keep his post in the next Congress. Ryan is a hero of the grassroots because of his budget expertise and conservative principles, and he's frequently mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney. Many also believe he could run for the White House one day. But if he doesn't become Romney's running mate this year - or join the Romney administration as a Cabinet member - Republicans will face a tough choice," The Hill's Erik Wasson reported. http://bit.ly/Oy49XF


@stevenportnoy : I'm not sure there's ever been as much anticipation of a #SCOTUSruling on a certain date. Most always, the court surprises. #HealthCareABC

@secupp : Howard Dean pre-games SCOTUS decision, saying individual mandate will be struck down, and it will be huge win for Obama. That's agility.

@Amy_Bingham : "belly dancers for single payer" have arrived in front of the court! http://instagr.am/p/MassY3Hntu/

@DavidMDrucker : Phone calls to make re: of #SCOTUS decision: Former Sen Lincoln (D-AR) & several ex Dem House Members.

@mattizcoop : Trying to imagine Tweets on the morning of other famed rulings.


- President Barack Obama has no scheduled public events and will be at the White House when the Supreme Court's health care decision comes down.

- Mitt Romney will make an on camera statement regarding the Court's decision in Washington DC. In the evening, he will hold a dinner with Donald Trump and a campaign fundraiser in New York.

- Vice President Joe Biden will attend meetings throughout the day.

- First Lady Michelle Obama will be in Tennessee today, where she will address the AME Church Conference in Nashville and will also address a campaign fundraiser in Memphis.

ABC's Joanna Suarez

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV