Green Room

Democratic argument that ‘Romney did it first’ is doomed

posted at 2:46 pm on July 2, 2012 by

Now that Chief Justice John Roberts, author of the majority (of one) opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, has ruled that the ObamaCare is constitutional so long as the T-word is used in place of mandate, some strategists on the left are testing out a “blame Romney” argument.

The argument (which also encompasses the main “it’s-a-penalty, not-a-tax” ploy) goes something like this: If the instrument used to fund the Affordable Care Act is called a tax (and we’re not admitting it is!), then Romney is at least as guilty if not more so than the president because he implemented the same approach in Massachusetts—and he did it first. In fact, since RomneyCare was the model for ObamaCare, the person responsible for the boat load of taxes that will now fall mainly on the shoulders of the American middle class is Romney!

So how likely is this argument to work? If the Democrats could somehow persuade everyone on the right to remain silent between now and the first Tuesday in November, the argument might have a fighting chance. Then again, so far half a million viewers have watched the online version of this fairly compelling ad by the Crossroads GPS super PAC, which focuses on Obama’s repeated promises not to raise taxes on the middle class by so much as a dime.

The other question is who the argument is meant to reach? It is doubtful that voters on the fence are going to care more about a state law that then-Massachusetts Governor Romney signed in 2006 than about a federal law that President Obama signed in 2010 that will affect their lives directly. (Some residents of Massachusetts may be swayed by the argument, but the chance of that solid-blue state going to Romney in November were already pretty remote.)

Those committed to voting for Romney are unlikely to change their vote to Obama on the strength of the argument that Romney is “just as bad.” Some of these voters may choose to stay home on Election Day, but the same is almost certainly true of committed supporters of the president, making it a wash.

If you need an indication of how much of a headache the Supreme Court ruling has been for Team Obama, consider that many of his surrogates are now attempting to change the subject … to the economy. When the Obamans are willing to discussing that lose-lose topic, you know they’re in trouble.

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The Democrats are conflicted about their strategerie in the wake of Roberts’ ruling. Some, seeing the continued unpopularity of ObamaCare® may be taking a ‘Blame Romney’ strategy, but the White House seems to be going towards a “What Roberts Ruling?” tactic, because they realize while ObamaCare® is unpopular, it’s really going to be unpopular if the general public and swing voters end up viewing it as a tax and not as some sort of mandate/magical free benefit from the Health Care Fairies.

So they’re pushing the meme that the Ginsburg opinion is controlling, not the Roberts opinion, while at the same time they’re blaming Romney, while Romney’s saying he will work to eliminate the law, but do it with Congress as if it is a tax. That’s not an easy circle to square, though most of the big media outlets will help them try, so it’s up to Team Mitt and others on the right to make sure the Obama narrative doesn’t become the one that the swing voters believe.

jon1979 on July 2, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Blame anyone but himself

cmsinaz on July 2, 2012 at 4:08 PM