ORLANDO – Political conservatives and Republicans who had been counting on a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, and a ruling tossing out all or most of the universal health care law supported by President Obama, were quick to express outrage today at the court’s decision to uphold the 2010 law.
From Gov. Rick Scott – who joined in a legal challenge to the law’s constitutionality — to candidates for state and local offices in Florida, there were fast denunciations of the court’s 5-4 ruling upholding the key provision of the law, that Congress can mandate that Americans who do not have health insurance be required to buy it or pay a fine.
The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who argued that the law was a valid exercise of Congress’s power to tax.
Craig Miller, the Republican candidate for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, sent out a statement within hours of when the court’s decision was announced, pledging that if elected in November, “I will sponsor legislation to overturn the Obama-care tax on day one.”
The former CEO of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Miller said it was a mistake for the Supreme Court to uphold the individual insurance requirement of the Obama Health Care law.
“This decision amounts to the biggest tax increase in American history,” he said. “The impact on middle class families and small business owners will have a devastating effect on our economy.”
On the plus side, Miller said, he predicted his own party would benefit from the ruling in November.
“I believe this ruling will galvanize voters to the polls to overturn this job killing measure and lead American’s to elect individuals who will turn back this affront to our liberties,” Miller said. “I vow to sponsor legislation on my first day of Congress to overturn this erosion of our Constitutional rights.”
He called this mandate “increasing taxes” on people who choose to go without insurance.
Another Republican, freshman Congressman Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, also issued a statement saying the court has made a mistake.
“Today’s ruling is disappointing in that the American people must continue to endure an administration addicted to taxing and regulating every aspect of American life,” Ross said. “Today’s ruling is positive, however, in that the left wing of the court acknowledged severe limitations on Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, gave the American people clarity that Obamacare is nothing more than a massive tax increase on working families, and recognized the rights of the states to reject paternalistic federal mandates Washington has no right to impose.”
Despite the court’s decision, “I remain committed to full repeal, ending the Obamacare tax, and passing patient-centered, doctor-friendly reforms to fix our health care system,” Ross said.
His colleague, Congressman Allen West, a south Florida Republican also serving his first term, said the ruling marks a “sad day in America,” and added that the court’s decision amounts to “extending the power of the United States Congress to tax Americans’ behavior.”
West added, “This is a sad day for Americans, as they will be taxed to pay for benefits they may not need or want as part of the insurance they are forced to buy. With this decision, Congress has been granted infinite taxation power, and there are no longer any limits on what the federal government can tax its citizens to do.”
Republicans had hoped that a Supreme Court decision tossing out the law, or striking down parts of it as unconstitutional, would severely cripple President Obama in his re-election bid this November.
Their frustration in the decision could be seen in how strongly the ruling was denounced, and the often dire consequences they were predicting if the law goes into effect, as scheduled, in 2014.
Claiming the law “hit the middle class especially hard, as hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost as businesses try to avoid the penalties and costs created by the healthcare law,” West warned that “The healthcare law will cost trillions of dollars, raise costs for employers and create huge incentives for them to drop health insurance.”
Likewise, in the crucial swing state of Florida, which voted for Obama in 2008, Gov. Rick Scott warned “The justices have declared that the central provision of ObamaCare is a judicially mandated tax — a new tax, pure and simple. This is just another burden the federal government has put on American families and small businesses. With the national economy struggling to recover, now is not the time to implement a massive social program that injects nothing but uncertainty and doubt into our economic system. By doing so, they have put up yet another major roadblock to efforts to get people back to work and forced the government into the important relationship between patients and their doctors.”
Political consultant and conservative activist Doug Guetzloe said he was stunned by the decision, and predicted it would impact how Florida and the nation vote in November, as President Obama tries to fend off a challenge from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee.
“I predicted that the 5-4 decision would be the other way, with Roberts siding with the majority in ditching ObamaCare,” Guetzloe said. “The political impact in Florida is like a bomb going off. Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is a must-win and will hand either Obama or Romney the presidency.”
Democrats were largely silent following the court’s decision, but one local hospital did issue a statement commenting on the law.
Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in Haines City sent out a statement from its parent company, Health Management.
“Health Management’s hospitals, including Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center and Bartow Regional Medical Center, provide compassionate, high quality care for our patients, and nothing in today’s ruling affects that,” the statement notes. “Our outstanding quality results, as measured by national standards, combined with our high level of efficiency prepare us for tomorrow’s marketplace. Our focus will remain on our patients and our ability to provide for their needs.
“As for the ruling,” HM added, “it does remove some legal uncertainty that has been a headwind for the industry, but we also know this discussion will continue, politically, through the fall. We stand ready to work with Congress on any meaningful changes they choose to consider.”
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