Obamacare upheld: 4 political consequences

Now that the Supreme Court has found the law Constitutional, both party's bases will likely be re-energized.

By InvestorPlace Jun 29, 2012 9:22AM

By Wendy Simmons


The Supreme Court surprised many Americans Thursday by upholding President Obama’s signature piece of domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare." While the political fallout will be felt for the next five months, at least four things are immediately clear:

1) The Tea Party rises again
During the primaries, there was much GOP hand-wringing over whether Mitt Romney was acceptably conservative to the base. Primary voters that strongly identified with the Tea Party were particularly unhappy with Romney’s candidacy.

Thursday's decision ensures that the voters who chased after the non-Romneys from January through March are lukewarm no more. If the court had struck down the controversial law, the GOP would not have been able to run on the notion that it alone could deliver us from the tyranny of "socialized medicine."

Now that the law is deemed Constitutional, Republicans can rightly claim that electing them in November is the final hope for stopping Obama’s health care reform. The law will be fully implemented in 2014, after which most people agree it would be almost impossible to turn back. Romney himself summed up : "If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we have to get rid of President Obama."

2) Fundraising just got even easier for Romney

As if he needed any more money, Mitt Romney will be able to channel the anger over this ruling into campaign dollars. He already was beginning to out-raise Obama before Thursday's events, but expect the money to start flowing even more easily.

In fact, according to Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul, he has already raised $2 million in the wake of Thursday's decision.

3) Re-energized Democratic base

While the very conservative wing of the GOP will fire up in response to this ruling, the Democratic base also might feel newly empowered.

During this election season, Democrats have trailed Republicans in expressing enthusiasm for their candidate. Just a few months ago, only 45% of Democrats said they were excited about voting for their candidate, compared with 53% of Republicans. There are a lot of reasons for the malaise, including the obviously weak economy and inflated expectations these voters had for Obama in 2008.

However, the very fact that the signature legislative achievement of Obama was in danger of being completely reversed, must have weighed on the minds of Democratic voters. Obamacare’s victory at the Supreme Court provides a shot in the arm to the Democratic base.

4) A newly potent tax narrative for Republicans

The most important part of the ruling was the support Chief Justice John Roberts gave to the idea of an individual mandate. If the court had ruled that this core aspect of the legislation was unconstitutional, it would have been impossible for the entire bill to be implemented as designed.

Although conservatives are furious with Roberts for not throwing the whole law out, he did manage to throw them a bone in re-defining the "penalty" part of the individual mandate as a "tax." While this might appear to be an insignificant semantic detail, the political narrative is clear. Now, Republicans can rightly claim that the Democrats are raising taxes on middle-class Americans to pay for Obamacare.

The president himself has been desperately trying to avoid calling the penalty a "tax." The Roberts decision clarified that Congress indeed has the right to tax its citizens. Imposing a new tax on the uninsured does not amount to coercion. Republicans will be able to hold up this new "tax" as potentially unlimited. For a party that holds "no new taxes" as its gold standard, this re-definition of the word "penalty" makes Obamacare all the more detestable to Republicans.

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

More from InvestorPlace

Jun 29, 2012 9:14PM
From day one, this penalty/tax was assigned to the IRS for collection. Claiming it's a penalty and not a tax defeats the very reason it was declared constitutional. I guess the Supreme court messed up again. I wonder how that might be corrected? If the court says it's a tax, and it's collected like a tax, it must be a tax!  
Jul 2, 2012 5:31AM
Cost will Rise! Rates will Rise! Service will continue to be CUT!  Dahhh.  Where you been folks? That's been going on for years!  Long before Obamacare was even a glint on the horizon!  If you don't want insurance, don't buy it.  That will cost you approx $95 dollars a year for single people if I understand the new fee (tax) structure.  Besides, if you don't have any money, which I think is the case for most Americans, or if you are lucky enough to work for a company that provides care, you don't need to worry about having to pay out of pocket for a catastrophic illness anyway.  However, as more and more people go without insurance, and don't pay their health bill, insurance rates will just continue to go up for everyone else like they been doing for years anyway.
Jun 30, 2012 9:10AM
Having read a little of the trial transcript, I need to back up some. This penalty? was clearly argued as a tax. It was questioned by the Justices and ruled on as a tax. The BO admin. can't spin it at all. It was ruled constitutional as a tax----under the commerce cause, it didn't fly. My mistake. IT IS A TAX---so ruled. 
Jul 1, 2012 11:18AM
Remember one thing about courts, all courts. Follow the money and the courts prestige. The constitution and the law are secondary.
Jul 4, 2012 10:40PM
You do know that the majority of people who walk into Emergency Rooms and don’t pay for the Surgery (Delivering of a baby) are Illegal and are not paying for the services plus becoming eligible for more and more government assistance through the act of having the baby that is born in the USA? How can he Mandate a Healthcare TAX on the Citizens when he is not taking care of the Drain on our economy at the border and put a STOP to the Illegal Immigration issue when the non-citizen residents here in this country that are sneaking into our country are not required to pay the TAX? How can you say that it will be $6000 or less for the same quality of healthcare for me each year when everyone will be covered and it will be a wait in line process. I work in the Healthcare industry and can assure you the State and Federal subsidized hospitals are the Dumps and give Poor service just like any other Government ran agency. They give poor customer service and everyone is treated like a number and that will never change. The only way to get treated just OK is to have private Health Insurance. We do not have enough hospitals and trained professionals to run things efficiently. It has become obvious he is more concerned with letting people sneak into our country illegally so they can vote for him than to do anything that would create a Job for a citizen.
Jul 3, 2012 9:01PM
Handwriting's on the wall.  Obamacare or no.  Obama is here to stay.  43,500,000 people on the dole will vote him to stay.
Jun 30, 2012 6:02PM
Its nice to see the Mitt Witts whining and crying about the ruling! And people will find as they read and learn about this law they will understand it better and not hear the BS from people who have no clue. I like the portability of it from one job to another ! Its time to put caps and limits on prices ! Why should one hernia operation cost 2500 one place and 5000 at another ? Standard prices in healthcare is what we need . We are now paying 25$ for an asprin at hospitals ! I say to Americans read it , get educated in it . Then you will be better informed ! And we already have socialized medical ! Its called medicare and everyone has to join when you turn 65 idiots !! Only in America land of the free? Home of the truly stupid....
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