The Supreme Court handed a courthouse victory to President Barack Obama on Thursday, but also gave him another campaign-trail problem.
The already unpopular 2010 health care reform law has been converted by the court into a $1.76 trillion tax increase funded by escalating taxes to be paid the vast majority of taxpayers.
GOP officials are pushing this Obamacare-to-Obamatax pitch, and are suggesting that the tax will further stall the economy.
“Do we think [the Obamacare tax] is going to help economic growth? … it is one more piece of evidence that the Obama administration is hurting our economic growth,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News.
Recent polls show the law is supported by roughly 40 percent of the population, but is opposed by roughly 55 percent.
The vast majority of the law’s existing supporters likely will vote for Obama in November, regardless of the court’s decision.
But opponents of the law include a critical slice of the critical swing-voting bloc.
Polls show the swing-voters are already leaning against Obama because of the stalled economy, high unemployment and record deficits.
However, many of these swing-voters are not ready to back Republican candidate Mitt Romney, partly because of their cool attitude to Romeny’s stiff personality and their worries about his hard-nosed but profitable business practices.
By formally converting “Obamcare” into “Obamatax,” the court allows Republicans to argue that Obama violated his 2008 pledge to not raise taxes on middle-class Americans.
“I can make a firm pledge — under my plan, no family making less that $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase,” he said in a September 2008 campaign speech in New Hampshire.
He spoke at a podium carrying a placard saying “Tax Relief for the Middle Class.”
Prior to the law’s passage in 2010, Obama also denied it was a tax. In September 2009, Obama told ABC that the law “is absolutely not a tax increase.”
In a midday statement, Romney called on voters to help him replace the tax.
“Obamacare raises taxes on the American people by approximately $500 billion dollars [and] cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion dollars,” he said in a TV statement with Congress in the background.
“Obamacare [adds] billions to our national debt and pushes obligations to oncoming generations… [it] means for up to 20 million Americans they will lose the insurance they currently have,” he said.
“Obamacare is a job killer… and perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts you between the federal government and your doctor,” he said.
Romney pledge to replace Obama’s law with one that protects Americans’ freedom and health.
“We have to make sure people who want to keep their current insurance will be able to do so… we’ve got to make sure that those people who have preexisting conditions know that they will be able to be insured… We also have to assure that we do our very best to help each state in their efforts to assure that every American has access to affordable health care,” he said.
“If we want good jobs and bright economic future for ourselves and for our kids, we must replace Obamacare… Help us defeat Obamacare. Help us defeat the liberal agenda that makes government too big, too intrusive and is killing jobs across this country,” he said.
“ObamaCare is the president’s signature legislative ‘achievement’ [but] The Obama campaign knows it’s a losing issue, and the polls show it,” said a midday statement from the Republican National Committee.
Voters in the critical state of Ohio voted against the law in 2010, while polls show the law is unpopular in other swing-states, said the RNC.
Majorities in Florida, Ohio and Iowa disapprove of the law, said the memo. Pluralities in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania oppose the law, the memo said.
Only small minorities in Wisconsin, North Carolina and Nevada beleived the law to be constitutional, said the memo.