The Republican Post-SCOTUS Spin: Taxes and Lies

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 28 2012 1:19 PM

The Republican Post-SCOTUS Spin: Taxes and Lies

Twenty-four hours ago, the conservative argument against Obamacare was this simple: "It's unconstitutional." Nothing's stopping anyone from saying that now. Rand Paul is still saying it. But after a court consisting of five Republican appointees and four Democratic appointees rules that a law can survive, it's hard to convince voters that they're wrong.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

One of GOP's new potential arguments is actually a little stronger than the old Appeal to James Madison. One, not as much.

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Argument One: Obama Lied, Private Practice Died. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, debuted this at the first sad rally after the decision. "Everyone who believes this president, and those who work for this president, is a fool!" he said. Obama had claimed that the mandate was NOT a tax. The court tsk-tsked the government and then said it was a tax, and that was okay. "When this president says something, you ought to understand, he might be lying," Gohmert said. Fine, but "that other guy is a liar"—how convincing is that for people who don't trust any of these jerks?

Argument Two: The Taxman cometh. This one I heard first from the preternaturally message-savvy Marco Rubio. "Let’s be clear," he said after the ruling. "I think it is pretty telling that, for the Obama administration, a victory is a middle-class tax increase. And that’s what this is. Not me saying it. That is what the Supreme Court said today."

Now, that's a winner. You can run from here to November against the threat of a tax on anyone who fails to purchase health care. A Republican strategist, trying to figure out some attack-ad language, came up with "The court told Obama the most he could do was tax you more. ... And he did." Jordan Gehrke, a strategist who previously worked for Sharron Angle and for a Herman Cain-backing super PAC, later tweeted this:

So have Democrats figured out yet just how screwed they are trying to run on a 500 BILLION dollar tax increase? Cuz I sure have.

I expect that's what we'll hear, coupled with an attack on Obama for breaking a pledge to raise taxes on no one making less than $250,000.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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