In a state with two open congressional seats, Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act provoked no shortage of statements from candidates hoping the ruling will energize their campaigns.
Though Democrats saw the ruling as a win for them and President Barack Obama, Republicans are hoping the decision will motivate their base to turn out to the polls and support their renewed effort to repeal the law.
The ruling, which labeled the law’s mandate to force people to buy health insurance a tax, gave Republicans the opportunity to criticize Democrats for raising taxes.
Linda McMahon, a Republican, running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman, issued a statement saying the tax will devastate small businesses and middle class families.
“Today’s decision by the High Court is extremely disappointing. The American people were told that this legislation would lower costs. It hasn’t. They were told that it would not increase taxes. It does,” she said.
McMahon said the decision makes the election choice easier for voters, most of whom she said do not support the law.
Former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, who’s running a Republican primary campaign against McMahon, said he’d be committed to repealing the law, if he were elected.
“The Supreme Court ruled that the President’s healthcare plan is constitutional based on the fact that the individual mandate is a tax, in spite of the fact that the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Administration repeatedly insisted it was not a tax,” Shays said in a statement.
Calling the Affordable Care Act “the largest tax increase in the history of the world,” the national Tea Party emailed supporters with a “Battle Plan” to repeal the law and asked them to make an emergency donation.
“Will you please make an EMERGENCY contribution of $15, $25, $35, $50, $100, $250 or more to help implement our plan to repeal all of Obamacare?” Tea Party national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin wrote.
Conservatives weren’t the only ones using the ruling to solicit donations. In an email to supporters, U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, a Democrat also seeking the Senate seat, said the ruling was reason to celebrate. The GOP effort to repeal the law was also a good reason to donate to his campaign, he said.
“Republican control of the Senate runs right through Connecticut, and the belief that health care is a universal right, not a privilege, is at stake in this election,” he wrote. “Contribute now—before Saturday’s critical deadline—to ensure President Obama has a Democratic Senate to protect the Affordable Care Act.”
Though candidates from both sides of the political spectrum are doing their best to use the landmark decision to their advantage, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, said in reality the ruling is a victory for his party.
“The Republicans are amazingly resilient. They will make a purse out of a sow’s ear nine out of 10 times. That’s what they’re attempting,” he said at a Friday press conference.
The governor questioned how many people the tax would actually apply to when its only imposed on people who choose not to buy affordable health insurance.
Malloy said during the first year of the mandate a single individual who chooses not to buy health insurance the tax imposed will be $90. Whereas a family of four not buying insurance would pay around $440 in the first year and $2,500 by the fourth year.
“What family of four, led by somebody who’s worried about their future and the future of their spouse and the future of their children, would not access the health care which is going to be made available at an affordable price?” Malloy asked “…To pay that tax, you would have to make the conscience decision to deny yourself, your spouse, and your children access to health care.”
The governor also dismissed concerns that the law will have a negative impact on small business owners. The law provides funds for small businesses with less than 50 employees to cover their workers, he said.
“I think there’s more in this for small business than additional cost. I know that’s become a talking point for Republicans, but if you talk to any small business person that’s where the rates have been going up most rapidly for the better part of 20 years,” he said.
State Sen. Andrew Roraback, a Goshen Republican running for the House seat Murphy is vacating, disagreed.
“There are a large number of small businesses in Connecticut, people who I’ve spoken with directly, who have chosen not to hire new employees because of the fear that they anticipate this law is going to cost them more money,” he said.