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MITT ROMNEY, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What the Court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States.
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GIGOT: Reaction Thursday from President Barack Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, to the Supreme Court's health care decision.
Okay. Dan, how big of a political victory was this for President Obama?
HENNINGER: If he had lost it would have been a big loss, there would have been no other way to spin it. But he won, and it's a little bit like football and politics, the Super Bowl. He won the Super Bowl with this Court decision.
On the other hand, I think that this decision has really blown a hole in his electoral strategy. He is running as the protector of the middle class, he has been saying for three years I will not raise taxes on the middle class. This tax raises taxes on the middle class. There is no other way to interpret it. The Court is saying it's a tax. The Democratic Party is running around refusing to describe it as a tax but you know that Mitt Romney is going to go out there and say that the president is imposing this tax on the middle class had he has got a basis for saying so.
RABINOWITZ: Yes, well I was thinking about the number of times we heard yesterday the phrase, we have awakened a sleeping giant. The sleeping giant being the Republicans, by this thing.
GIGOT: Sleeping maybe, I am not so sure about giant. But go ahead.
RABINOWITZ: True. The first user of this great analogy was actually the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, Admiral Yamamoto who said I fear we have only succeeded in awakening a sleeping giant and filling him with a terrible resolve. The terrible resolve is now indeed in the hands of the Republicans. But it struck me too that the connection with treachery, Pearl Harbor, all of that, the sense of treachery that the Roberts Court has infused in people, filled people with, the sense of a back-stabbing against expectations, that too is very much in the air--
GIGOT: Could demoralize Republicans --
RABINOWITZ: It is an embittering factor, it's one of the things -- let's remember Pearl Harbor, let's remember Roberts..
GIGOT: I think that, had it gone other way -- like Dan -- this would have really ruined the Obama presidency because his single achievement would have been overturned and he would have looked ineffectual in addition to ideological and therefore would have really suffered, particularly as the left was so -- would have been demoralized by the fact that this great achievement that they have longed for was undercut. So I think there is a good argument to be made -- we will see what happens in the election -- that John Roberts personally saved Barack Obama's presidency.
TARANTO: It is a pretty good argument. On the other hand, this law has always been terribly unpopular and we keep hearing during the lead up to it, Obama was going to give a speech and it was going to turn things around and when it was passed people were going to turn around when they realized how great it was, and it has never happened. I don't think this is going to happen either. I still think that ObamaCare is a big burden on the President in his reelection effort.
GIGOT: There is no question, Joe, the tax argument can be used by the president, but Mitt Romney didn't mention the middle class tax that this mandate tax is in his remarks. And why not?
RAGO: And here is the problem. It's because he instituted the same policy in Massachusetts in 2006. He is a compromised messenger. The other problem here for the people that want to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, is that, say Mitt Romney wins, he said I want to get rid of this. If he needs any kind of democratic support, including in the Senate, he is not going to get it, they are going to fight tooth and nail to fight to protect the biggest legislative liberal achievement since the 1960s. So without some kind of outside force coming in, it makes their job much, much harder.
GIGOT: Well the outside force here has to be the voters. This is the only recourse here if people do not want this law to stand. Because the president made clear, it is going to grind on this implementation and he is not going to give up anything in it if he doesn't have to.
HENNINGER: I think the decision hands a campaign gift to Mitt Romney, it has got Republicans angry, it has unleashed extraordinary amounts of negative energy, which in campaign politics is really good. You want your base riled up and this has done that.
Secondly, he raised about three million dollars the day of the decision, the Republican Party raised two hundred thousand dollars by posting an anti-Obama thing on his website. I think Romney's contributions could skyrocket with the result of this, if he knows how to exploit the issue.
GIGOT: And this does eviscerate the argument that he has not raised taxes on the middle class. I mean really, this mandate tax, it was upheld because it's defined as a tax.
TARANTO: Well Romney can use Obama's 2009 interview with George Stephanopoulos in which Obama gets very testy when Stephanopoulos says, "Isn't this a tax?" and he says, "No, George." Stephanopoulos actually looked it up in the dictionary and Obama lectured Stephanopoulos. The fact that he had to look it up in the dictionary just shows how much of an argument that is.
GIGOT: Well, will Romney use that, Dorothy, because of the reasons that Joe pointed out about Massachusetts, will he use that tax argument?
RABINOWITZ: I think he can, and he will. I think he will. He has done a very good job about having amnesia about his very own experience in Massachusetts, and let's remember one thing, what's here a huge number of aged people who are worrying about Social Security are going to be confronting this immense cut, they are going to the poles, they vote.
GIGOT: All right. When we come back, a closer look at what Dorothy referred to as the economic fallout from this week's ruling. What it means for the health care industry's small business and your own insurance coverage. Next.
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OBAMA: If you are one of the more than two hundred and fifty million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance. This law will only make it more secure and more affordable.
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GIGOT: Well, you have heard it before, and that was Pesident Obama, Thursday, saying it again. If you like your health insurance you can keep it, only now he promises it will be more secure and more affordable.
So Joe, is everybody going to be able to keep the health insurance they have?
RAGO: No, I don't think so. There is huge incentives in this bill as it stands for employers to drop coverage, put them into Medicaid, into the government exchanges. So that is a problem. The other problem is, this mandate, as a tax is pretty weak. It is only a few hundred dollars. The much better deal is for younger, healthier people to continue going on and just sign up for health insurance when they get to the hospital.
GIGOT: Because they are guaranteed with this bill to be able to.
RAGO: They are guaranteed. Paying the mandate tax is the best deal in town if you don't need health care.
GIGOT: And that is what has happened in Massachusetts.
RAGO: That is what is happened in Massachusetts, it's what's happened in certain federal programs. So I think we are going to see a lot of destabilization and then the calls are going to arise to increase the mandate cost over time.
GIGOT: And they are already doing that, the insurers are already asking.
HENNINGER: Well I think somebody should say something at this point for medicine, doctors and patients. We have been sitting here through this whole thing talking about processors, insurance, drug companies, big hospital complexes. What does all of this mean for the practice of medicine in the United States, you know, the geniuses who create new surgical procedures, new medical technologies which are being taxed under this bill, 3.3 percent--