Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – While the Supreme Court upheld the majority of the Affordable Care Act last Thursday, the political firestorm surrounding the issue continued. Republicans are vowing to repeal the act and have called it the biggest tax hike in American history, but Democrats also have trouble ahead.
Politifact rated the claim about the Affordable Care Act being the largest tax increase ever as a “Pants On Fire” lie. The line has been repeated by several Republicans including Florida Representative Connie Mack who called it “the largest tax on the American people in history.”
According to economic numbers, as a percentage of GDP, the Affordable Care Act isn’t the largest tax increase in the last six decades, according to the Washington Post.
Economists found the taxes included in the new health care law were roughly equal to the tax increases in 1990 under President George W. Bush and in 1993 under President Bill Clinton.
As a percentage of GDP, when all of the health care law tax provisions are in effect in 2019, the law’s increases would be roughly 0.49 percent of total GDP, according to Politifact. The largest tax increase in modern times, according to Politifact, was in 1968 and the second was in 1982.
Plus, the GOP’s party line isn’t as unified as it typically is on an issue of taxation.
GOP nominee Mitt Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Monday that the individual mandate was not a tax, which the Court ruled it was. The distinction in the argument is that if the mandate hadn’t been ruled a tax, the entire law would have been thrown out.
Still, Democrats can’t take a victory lap on the health care law being upheld in the Supreme Court. While the decision increased support for the law some; there is still a large division among those supporting and opposing the law.
According to a new CNN poll, 50 percent of Americans agreed with the Court’s decision, while 49 percent disagreed. In other words, it’s a statistical tie on whether Americans support the decision.
By a 52-47 percent margin, the CNN poll found Americans favor all or most of the new provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act.
The partisan divide was also evident in the poll as 81 percent of Democrats agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision, while 81 percent of Republicans opposed it. Seventy-nine percent of liberals supported the decision, while 54 percent of moderates did, and 30 percent of Republicans did as well.
A separate poll from the Kaiser Foundation found that despite the GOP’s plans to hold a symbolic House of Representatives vote to repeal the entire law, 56 percent of voters want them to stop their efforts and move on to other national problems.
The law presents a conundrum wrapped in an enigma for both candidates.
Democrats have to push the benefits of the law while avoiding the pitfalls of having it incorrectly classified as a large tax increase. Republicans have to rally the base by promising repeal, while not showing Americans what they would replace the law with if it was repealed.
Both parties may slowly move away from health care in the coming weeks. The Romney campaign doesn’t want to have to defend the fact that the ACA was based on his health care reform act in Massachusetts, which could hurt him with hard-core conservatives.
President Barack Obama doesn’t want to deal with the ACA because the passage of the law ceded control of the House of Representatives to Republicans in the tea party wave of 2010.
Still, it will remain a hot-button issue as both sides try to win the collective hearts of the independent voters who will decide the 2012 presidential election.