Your Guide to Laughable Obamacare Decision Spin

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 29 2012 10:32 AM

Your Guide to Laughable Obamacare Decision Spin

Ever since John Roberts destroyed human freedom in America,* smart Republicans and Republican strategists have assured me that his decision will undo Barack Obama anyway. Charles Mahthesian surmised that the law "removed one arrow from the Democratic quiver — the prospect of an outraged and highly motivated base — and provided a new one to the GOP by defining the mandate as a tax." Several strategists suggested making an ad that juxtaposed Obama's insistence that the mandate was not a tax with "with all the headlines from today saying the mandate is a tax."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

The Republican National Committee was up to the task.


It's effective, helped along by a true-sounding whopper -- "ANOTHER Obama tax increase." (As he promised in 2008, Obama hasn't actually raised anybody's tax rates. He's instituted smoking and tanning bed taxes. That's it.) But it's important to remember that spin is what people do when they lose. Brick by brick here.

"Democrats would have been motivated by a loss." I'd really like to know the basis for that. A loss would have devastated liberals, tens of thousands of whom personally worked to pass the bill. Explain the thought process that would get someone off the couch after watching a signature achievement get shredded. Wasn't that crushing labor rights defeat in Wisconsin supposed to build a groundswell against Scott Walker? Remind me how that worked out.

"Now, Republicans can run against a tax increase." Hi, have you met Republicans? They were going to do that anyway. Long before Donald Verelli admitted that you could defend the mandate as a tax, Republican and PAC ads whaled on Democrats for "voting for higher taxes" in Obamacare. One example from the barrage of American Crossroads midterm ads:


"If SCOTUS struck down the law, Democrats wouldn't have had to answer for it." Sorry, same question: Have you met Republicans? Nancy Pelosi's Democrats narrowly passed cap and trade in the House, but the bill got gummed up in the Senate. It never became law. That didn't stop conservatives from knocking Democrats' molars out with anti-cap and trade ads. This one, from Missouri, attacked a Democrat who wasn't even an incumbent member of Congress -- who had merely not fully rejected an idea that was sort of like this bill that wasn't becoming law.

Every Democrat who voted for the PPACA will have to explain that vote, forever, and just hope the law becomes more popular. There would have been no skeedaddling away from the law if Roberts had joined the conservatives and killed the law. Then, Democrats would have voted for higher taxes that were unconstitutional to start with.

I realize that the Slate reporter has a special duty to find the contrary point and explain how, no, really, it's true. Not on this, though. Republicans were always going to campaign against tax-raising, Medicare-cutting Democrats. No fun pretending that the Supreme Court gave them an opening. They picked up this stuff from the wreckage.

*In the opinion of some.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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