President Obama’s Supreme Victory

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 28, 2012 – 11:33 am

This morning’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the individual mandate—and the majority of the Affordable Care Act—is a huge victory for the Obama Administration. 

By a 5-4 verdict, The Supreme Court decided that the President’s signature health care legislation, commonly known as “ObamaCare,” will stand. The Court appears only to have thrown out a provision that would penalize states for not expanding their Medicaid rolls.

It’s impossible to analyze the High Court’s decision without considering what it means for November’s presidential election.

Most importantly, by winning today, President Obama avoids the stench of being framed as a political “loser” who wasted a massive amount of political capital on an unconstitutional bill. His victory will allow him to campaign on the Bill’s key provisions: providing health care to 30 million Americans by 2022 who otherwise wouldn’t have it, doing away with pre-existing conditions and lifetime insurance caps, and adding children up to age 26 to their parents’ insurance policies.

Republicans have a bigger messaging challenge. Mitt Romney is a flawed spokesperson for the anti-mandate message, since he supported an individual mandate while serving as governor of Massachusetts. Plus, other prominent conservatives—Newt Gingrich comes to mind—until recently supported the individual mandate.

The breakdown of the Court’s decision also complicates their messaging strategy. The swing vote upholding ObamaCare belonged to conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, a Bush appointee. That prevents conservatives from running against a “liberal” court.

But Republicans have a couple of potentially potent openings. First, the Court decided that the individual mandate would survive as a “tax,” despite the Obama Administration’s earlier insistence that it wasn’t one. That allows Republicans to accuse President Obama of raising taxes on the middle class. Sarah Palin, for example, was quick to tweet this morning that, “Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.”

Second, ObamaCare remains deeply unpopular with many voters. If Mitt Romney runs on repealing it—and it appears that he will—he may help energize portions of the G.O.P. base and boost fundraising.

Two other big losers today are CNN and Fox News, both of which initially reported that the Court killed the individual mandate. But the biggest media loser of the day is CNN Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who predicted in March that “This law looks like it’s going to be struck down.” His words serve as an important reminder to spokespersons that issuing highly speculative predictions is a bad idea that can badly undermine your credibility.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

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    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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