GOP plots strategy on health law repeal
WASHINGTON -- Turned away at the Supreme Court, congressional Republicans sketched a strategy Friday to repeal in 2013 the nation's health care law that requires a sweeping election victory carrying Mitt Romney to the presidency and the party at least to narrow control of the Senate.
Romney sought to turn the court's decision upholding the 2-year-old law into a campaign battle cry, saying the 5-4 ruling had injected "greater urgency" into his challenge to President Barack Obama. "I think many people assumed that the Supreme Court would do the work that was necessary in repealing Obamacare," he said.
Several Republicans seized on a portion of Chief Justice John Roberts' majority opinion that says the centerpiece of the law, a requirement to purchase insurance, was constitutional because it is based on Congress' power to impose a tax.
"Those who will end up paying the heaviest burden for not buying government-mandated insurance won't be the wealthiest Americans, but the very middle-class families the president claims to defend," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
The White House said that was an argument it was happy to have. Presidential press secretary Jay Carney said Obama has signed legislation cutting middle-class taxes repeatedly, and that Republicans want to extend existing income tax cuts for the wealthy and then add "another $5 trillion . . . that would disproportionately benefit" the same group.
At the same time, the administration announced the latest in a series of steps to implement a law that already has curbed insurance company abuses and cut costs for seniors with high prescription drug costs. Officials said another round of financing was available for states to set up health insurance exchanges, the one-stop markets for consumers scheduled to open in 2014.
Polls find Obama and Romney in a close race four months before the election, with the economy the nation's overriding issue. The battle for control of the Senate is also uncertain, and one day after the court's ruling the principal fallout was political.
Romney, Obama and congressional candidates in both parties raised campaign money from the ruling, in which Roberts unexpectedly joined four more-liberal justices to uphold the law's core component -- a requirement that nearly all Americans purchase health insurance beginning in 2014.
The Republican-controlled House is planning to vote in a little more than a week to repeal the law. But it will be a symbolic vote, to show faith with opponents of what the GOP scornfully calls "Obamacare."