“I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward,” Obama said.
He and senior administration officials cautioned that Republicans could overplay their hand by pushing for repeal and a return to the fractious health care debates of 2009 that took a toll on congressional job approval.
Perhaps acknowledging the precarious approval rating the health care law carries, White House officials said they didn’t expect Obama, who has not made health care a central theme in his stump speeches, to change course. They said his focus would be the economy.
“Americans don’t like the current health law, but they don’t like the current health care system either,” said Ilisa Halpern Paul, managing government relations director at Drinker Biddle & Reath, a law and lobbying firm. “The economy and jobs are the number one issue.”
Republican National Committee Political Director Rick Wiley argued in a memo Thursday that the ruling hurts Obama in November because polls suggest more Americans want the law repealed.
Wiley said 52 percent of Americans in the June 20-24 ABC News/Washington Post poll had an “unfavorable impression” of the law dubbed “Obamacare” and that just 22 percent in a June 20-24 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said they would be “disappointed” if the law were found unconstitutional.
“The Obama campaign knows it’s a losing issue, and the polls show it,” Wiley said.
Still, pollster Peter Brown said that politics is a zero-sum game and that the ruling was a win for Obama because it preserves his signature accomplishment.
“You can hear the sigh of relief at the White House,” said Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which polls in battleground states including Florida.
McClatchy reporters Erika Bolstad and David Lightman contributed to this report.