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Why Republicans see a loss in the Supreme Court as a win at the polls

Supreme Court's 5-to-4 ruling upholding President Obama's health-care law gives Republicans a new case to repeal the law, hammer taxes, and rev up the party base.

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But going after a full repeal has its downsides. For one, that tack risks being ripped asunder by Democrats who see the GOP’s fixation on health care as a way to paint the party as focusing on the past – and not on jobs.

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“No one thinks this law is perfect. But Democrats have proven we’re willing to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act. Millions of Americans are still struggling to find work,” said Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada on the Senate floor Thursday. “Our first priority must be to improve the economy. It’s time for Republicans to stop refighting yesterday’s battles.”

Moreover, there are popular provisions in the law – such as changes that would allow young people to stay on their parents' health insurance until the age of 26 and bar insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions – that would be wiped away at the same time.

Republicans are “going to have a vote to say if you're a child and have a preexisting medical condition and no longer can be discriminated against, we're going to overturn that. If you're a senior and you're paying less for your prescription drugs and you're getting free preventive checkups and the rest, we're going to overturn that. If you're 26 years old and under … your parents' policy, pull the plug on that as well,” said House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D) of California at a press conference Thursday.

And so Republicans will hammer home the message that the prevailing legacy of the health-care law is that it inhibits the American economy.

The first words from the lips of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R) of Ohio at a Thursday press conference? “The president’s health-care law is hurting our economy. It’s driving up health-care costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers,” he said.

Moreover, the opinion of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts affirming the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate by saying the Congress has the right to levy taxes gave Republicans an ability to tie the health-care law to their favorite bugaboo of economic progress: taxes.

“Health care is an extremely important, personal issue, and the Supreme Court’s decision to call the individual mandate what it is – a tax on every American – makes clear this law is not what President Obama sold to the American people,” said Brad Dayspring, a former staffer for House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia and senior adviser to the YG Network, a GOP political-action committee.

That sentiment was echoed by numerous Capitol Hill Republicans.
"The American people now have a very clear choice,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) of North Carolina, a registered nurse, in a statement. “They can either support historic tax and spending increases, fiscal uncertainty, and unprecedented government overreach into nearly all aspects of their lives or join us in fighting to repeal this Obamacare tax and work for real solutions.”

What is clear as the Supreme Court's decision reverberates around Capitol Hill is that the argument will be prosecuted through November and beyond.

“Americans want us to start over,” said Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky on the Senate floor. “Today’s decision does nothing to change that. The court’s ruling does not mark the end of the debate. It marks a fresh start on the road to repeal."


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