The High Court’s Week in the Spotlight. With scholars, experts, pundits and journalists waiting with bated breath, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) yesterday. According to the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, individual mandate was upheld, but “must be construed as imposing a tax on those who do not have health insurance,” not as “a valid exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.” However, it is important to recall that in making the case for the bill, President Obama repeatedly said that the mandate was not a tax. Eric Patashnik, Associate dean of the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, explained the ruling:
“Chief Justice Roberts found a middle path, granting the main conservative argument against the law (the federal government's regulatory powers are not unlimited) but also allowing implementation of the law to go forward.”
But, as Patashnik and Jeffery Jenkins wrote earlier this year, “The main impact of the Court’s decision will be to shape the political ground on which the health reform struggle will continue.”
Responding to the ruling, Mitt Romney said:
“This is now a time for the American People to make a choice. You can choose whether to have a larger and larger government making intrusions into your life... Or whether instead you want to return to a time where Americans have their own choice in health care.”
He added, “What the Supreme Court did not do on its last day in session, I will do in my first day in office. I will act to repeal Obamacare.”
President Obama also responded to the ruling and said:
“I knew the idea wasn't politically popular and resisted it when I ran for this office. … It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. ... Now's the time to focus on the most important challenge of our time: putting people back to work.”
Romney’s campaign said this morning that it raised $4.2 million online following the Supreme Court's decision. The Obama campaign also seized upon the ruling to raise funds, but the campaign would not reveal how much.
Both CNN and Fox News falsely reported the outcome of the SCOTUS Healthcare ruling on the first take.
Among other rulings, the Supreme Court also handed down its decision in Arizona vs. United States, the 2010 Arizona immigration law (S.B. 1070). With a 5-3 vote, the Court upheld the most hotly contested provision of the law – the so-called “show me your papers” provision – but blocked other provisions on the grounds that they preempted the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy. In a separate ruling issued on Monday, the Court solidified its Citizens United ruling by striking down a Progressive Era ban on corporate giving in the state of Montana. In its 5-4 decision, the Court said there is “no serious doubt” that the Citizens United ruling applies to the state, disappointing those who viewed the Montana case as a means to challenge the controversial ruling on corporate campaign spending.
Vox Pop. A Gallup poll of the presidential candidates’ personal characteristics released on Wednesday shows that a minority of those polled believe that neither candidate has a clear plan for solving the country's problems – only 40% say Obama does and 38% say Romney does. According to a new NBC/WSJ poll, enthusiasm is down among key voting groups compared to 2008. According to Quinnipiac polls in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, President Obama’s decision to exempt young illegal immigrants from deportation appears to be turning off more voters than it mobilizes.
It’s the economy, stupid. The Washington Post said Wednesday that the newspaper would not retract a controversial report about Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital despite a request from the candidate’s campaign and a meeting with campaign representatives. The article, published earlier this month, investigated and found that under Romney's tenure, Bain invested in firms that specialized in outsourcing American jobs.
Foreign Policy. According to a new book, Little America, because of infighting in the Obama White House, the administration failed to aggressively explore negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan when it had the best opportunity to do so. Meanwhile, internal rivalries also dog the Romney foreign policy team. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the “star speaker” at the Romney Victory Leadership Retreat last weekend in Park City, Utah and called for America to once again take the lead. She also keynoted for the inaugural fundraiser of the new Republican women’s political action committee, ShePAC, on Monday.
$$$$$$. The Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit last Friday in the U.S. District Court in Washington challenging campaign contribution limits set by the federal government. Under existing law, one person may give no more than $2,500 to a political candidate in one election, and $30,800 each year to one political party committee, such as the RNC. If they win, one person could give more than $2 million to candidates and party committees if they divided the money among House and Senate members and various state parties. According to a Washington Post investigation, at least 34 members of Congress recast their financial portfolios following phone calls or meetings with high-ranking Treasury Department and Federal Reserve officials during the economic crisis. The Post also found that 133 members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees.
Ad Wars. President Obama released tailor-made ads in Iowa, Ohio and Virginia that attack Romney as the “outsourcer-in-chief.” Meanwhile, Romney released customized ads in Virginia, Ohio, Iowa and North Carolina making promises of what he would do in his first 100 days. Promises include: reversing “Obama’s offshore drilling ban,” repealing Obamacare, cutting “taxes that kill jobs,” and repealing “regulations that are strangling our energy industry and costing us jobs.” Voters in swing states are also being flooded with campaign ads on energy policy, much of them sponsored by oil and natural gas interests.
VEEPstakes. Google and The Fix have teamed up to track the veepstakes. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is being vetted for the number two position, according to a radio interview earlier this week. New Hampshire Senator and veep prospect Kelly Ayotte Romney’s foreign policy at a conference on democracy in Russia, saying, “I think that he has a strong understanding of foreign policy, and he does not have a Cold War view toward Russia.” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told a town hall audience on Wednesday that he has no inside information on who Romney will pick as his running mate, but he doesn't expect it will be him.
Convention Dodgers. Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, New York Reps. Kathy Hochul and Bill Owens, as well as Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz all said they will skip the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina this year. Not surprisingly, all hail from conservative-leaning states and congressional districts. Meanwhile, former Rep. Heather Wilson, who is running for Senate in Democratic-leaning New Mexico, as well as Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg and former Hawaii governor Linda Lingle will skip the Republican National Convention.
Partisanship. In a vote of 255 to 67, with 108 Democrats abstaining, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the botched “Fast and Furious” gunwalking operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco and Firearms and Explosives. By some accounts, Holder is the first sitting Cabinet member to ever have been held in contempt of Congress. About 100 Members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer and the Congressional Black Caucus walked out.
Potpourri. Geoffrey Skelley argued that Republicans could tie their record after the 2012 elections for the number of state governorships the party has held at one time. The high-water mark for the GOP was 34 in 1921-22 and the Republicans currently hold 29 gubernatorial offices across the country.
We leave you with this excerpt of a speech delivered by Harry S. Truman to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on this day in 1947. Truman was the first president to address the NAACP and he states there is no justifiable reason for discrimination because of ancestry, religion, race, or color. In his address to the NAACP, President Truman reiterated the promise of the New Deal and said:
We must keep moving forward, with new concepts of civil rights to safeguard our heritage. The extension of civil rights today means, not protection of the people against the Government, but protection of the people by the Government...
Every man should have the right to a decent home, the right to an education, the right to adequate medical care, the right to a worthwhile job, the right to an equal share in making the public decisions through the ballot, and the fight to a fair trial in a fair court.
We must insure that these rights – on equal terms – are enjoyed by every citizen.