Court of Public Opinion Weighs In on Health Care Reform Law
People gather outside the Supreme Court Tuesday as justices hear arguments on the health care reform law. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
The nation’s high court will be the center of the political universe Tuesday, with the key provision of the health care reform law under scrutiny. The Supreme Court justices will hear arguments about whether a national insurance mandate is constitutional.
At the same time, the health care law is getting a fresh look in the court of public opinion.
A CBS News/New York Times poll found that two-thirds of Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn some or all of the law, but the survey also showed strong support for individual pieces included in the measure.
Nearly 40 percent said they wished to see the court turn back the entire law, with 29 percent expressing support for overturning the requirement that all Americans obtain health insurance or pay a fine.
Other mandates were far more popular, with 85 percent of respondents saying they favored the law’s requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions. Sixty-eight percent, meanwhile, backed the provision allowing individuals up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health plans.
A CNN survey released Monday revealed similar findings, with 23 percent of respondents saying to leave the law as is, 43 percent wanting to overturn some of its provisions and 30 percent hoping the court would reject the overhaul in its entirety.
A survey by Pew Research Center indicated little has changed since President Obama signed the law two years ago, with 47 percent of Americans approving of it and 45 percent disapproving. The individual mandate is more unpopular. The poll showed 56 percent of the public disapproves of that foundation of the law.
(To the question of which political party can do a better job dealing with health care, 49 percent said Democratic, while 35 percent said Republican.)
The NewsHour is your destination this week for thorough coverage and detailed analysis of the Supreme Court hearings. Our team is posting audio of the proceedings and courtroom sketches, and we’ll answer your questions about the election-year battle.
National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle and Health Affairs’ Susan Dentzer, our dynamic duo on air each evening, kicked off the coverage Monday night explaining concisely what was at stake.
And health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser delivered a piece on the political implications of the courtroom drama. Watch the segments here or below.
You can read Marcia’s primer on Day 2 here.
And don’t miss Jason Kane and Victoria Fleischer’s post showing the faces of the opposition.
On a lighter note, Roll Call’s Neda Semnani tracked down the SCOTUS cat seen among the protesters and supporters chanting outside the courtroom, prompting NPR’s awesome lede:
No circus would be complete without a few animals.
So wouldn’t you know the big crowd outside the U.S. Supreme Court today included a cat on a leash and an adorable chihuahua mix with health insurance.
(Semnani has more on “Pud” the cat here.)
Everyone is getting in on the political action, from Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., taking a seat in the courtroom to advocates on both sides getting vocal on 1st Street between the Capitol and the Supreme Court buildings.
American Crossroads reminds voters in a new web video that Mr. Obama opposed the individual mandate when he was locked in a primary fight with Hillary Clinton.
Watch it here or below.
(The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza has the back story on how the president changed his mind on the issue.)
With Team Obama frequently and pointedly noting that Mitt Romney’s plan in Massachusetts was the model for the Affordable Care Act, will this actually be a campaign issue once the GOP primary concludes?
Rick Santorum held a press conference Monday on the steps of the Supreme Court and made sure reporters saw a story at Buzzfeed that summarized a 2009 Romney op-ed in USA Today. In that piece, Romney argued that an individual mandate was actually a conservative way to go about the health care problem and held up Massachusetts as an example that could work at a national level.
The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Dan Balz have more on Massachusetts’ health care law, which was supposed to be Romney’s Achilles heel but has not damaged him as much as initially expected.
Roll Call’s David Drucker expands on that theory, getting prominent Hill Republicans to say “Romneycare” isn’t a weakness for the front-runner at all.
Have questions about the health care law hearings? Details for participating in @newshour’s Tuesday 1 p.m. #HCRChat are here.
RACE TO 1,144
Santorum railed on Romney supporter and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu for saying “significant” people have suggested he should bow out of the race.
“Of course Gov. Romney’s supporters are going to want everybody out of the way. It’d be nice if Gov. Romney and everybody else got out of my way. But that’s not how primaries work,” Santorum said on the steps of the Supreme Court.
He added, “Well, I guess we’ll have to leave it to the insignificant voters of America in the remaining primaries to step forward and challenge the significant people who are speaking here in Washington, D.C.”
Newt Gingrich told CNN he thinks Romney is the “weakest front-runner” the party has seen. “The morning that he gets 1,144 that are locked down he can claim to be the nominee. This is not over until it’s over. If he does become the nominee I will support him. If he doesn’t win the nomination, then it’s going to be wide open,” Gingrich said.
In a preview of their likely general election battle, Mr. Obama and Romney traded blows Monday over a comment picked up by a live microphone during the president’s bilateral meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at a nuclear security summit in South Korea.
Mr. Obama told Medvedev that the issue of European missile defense would have to wait until his presidential campaign was finished later this year. “This is my last election,” the president said. “After my election, I have more flexibility.”
That comment drew a stern rebuke from Romney, who was campaigning in San Diego on Monday.
“Now when the president of the United States is speaking with the leader of Russia saying he can be more flexible after the election, that is an alarming and troubling development,” Romney said. “This is no time for our president to be pulling his punches with the American people and not telling us what he’s intending to do with regards to our missile defense system.”
The Romney campaign also sought to raise some coin off the comment, emailing supporters Monday evening asking for a $10 donation “to help defeat President Obama and limit his flexibility to his tee time.”
“It speaks volumes that this President is more open and forthcoming with the Russian government than he is with the American people,” Romney policy director Lanhee Chen wrote in the fundraising missive. “We have a right to know what other areas and issues the President plans to be “flexible” on during a second term.”
The president defended his comments Tuesday before departing for Washington.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before a presidential and congressional elections in the United States, and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia and they’re in the process of a presidential transition where a new president is going to be coming in in a little less than two months,” Mr. Obama said.
He also remarked that the uproar over his statement essentially proved his point and pointed the finger at Republicans in Congress for not being more receptive to talks on missile defense.
“The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, if I’m consulting with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support. And frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” he added. “I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is probably pretty good evidence of that. I think we’ll do better in 2013.”
2012 LINE ITEMS
- At a breakfast with reporters in Washington, Santorum gave conflicting messages about whether he could win Wisconsin’s April 3 primary.
- Politico’s Ken Vogel on Karl Rove’s behind-the-scenes role this election year.
- The Washington Post’s Sandhya Somashekhar writes that Santorum’s “nice guy” image has taken a hit of late.
- Politico’s Alex Burns reports that “Romney’s campaign and the super PAC Restore Our Future are spending a combined $1,917,764 over the next seven days,” and “Santorum’s campaign is not on the air at all at the moment, so the TV campaign is being carried by the Red White and Blue Fund super PAC. That group is in the process of putting $513,000 into the state for the home stretch.” In all, Burns notes, “Over the course of the contest in Wisconsin, pro-Romney forces have spent about $3.2 million to the Santorum camp’s $568,000, for a roughly 6 to 1 Romney advantage.”
- Romney picked up support on Monday from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union. Lee, a staunch conservative who unseated Sen. Bob Bennett at the GOP convention in 2010, can give Romney some cover with Tea Party supporters, a part of the base he has struggled to win over so far.
- Gingrich has lost his last embedded print reporters, Politico reports.
- Texas Rep. Ron Paul insisted the race “is not over” in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
- Gloria Steinem recorded a video for the Obama campaign.
- Romney took a couple of his grandkids to see “The Hunger Games” this weekend.
- If you wanted to see a series of photos of Vice President Joe Biden wearing aviator sunglasses, well, here you go.
— Lorna Baldwin (@lornabaldwin) March 26, 2012
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) March 26, 2012
This woman’s health care woes started after being bitten by a barracuda. Says ACA is light at end of tunnel twitter.com/JasoKane/statu…
— Jason Kane (@JasoKane) March 26, 2012
Cat allowed on SCOTUS steps. People, not so much.instagr.am/p/IpGYafJKOf/
— Amanda Becker (@RollCallAmanda) March 26, 2012
Sunburst as people pray in front of the Supreme Court twitter.com/StevenTDennis/…
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) March 26, 2012
t.co/eTAVShHf view from accross street of hundreds marching for obamacare.Singing “let it shine”
— evale72 (@evale72) March 26, 2012
When is a food truck not just a food truck? When it’s operated by Chick-fil-A: bit.ly/GU5OOX
— Mike Madden (@mikemadden) March 26, 2012
NYT: Rep. Charlie Rangel paying $23k fine for using rent-controlled apartment as campaign office #HotlineSort
— Reid Wilson (@HotlineReid) March 27, 2012
OUTSIDE THE LINES
- Time’s Jay Newton Small on the president’s trip to Korea.
- The Hill’s Josh Lederman writes that former Maine Gov. Angus King, an independent running to replace GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe, has hired two new campaign staffers — “one a Democrat, the other a Republican.”
- An appeals court upheld 10 of the 11 corruption charges against former Rep. Bill Jefferson, D-La.
- Former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has co-authored what is being called an “eco-thriller” about “a fictional attempt to sabotage alternative energy development,” the Associated Press reports.
- Martin Sheen stars in a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee video attacking GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint.
- Happening now, NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff interviews Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., at an education forum hosted by the Atlantic. Watch it here.
ON THE TRAIL
All events are listed in Eastern Time.
- President Obama returns from his trip to South Korea late Tuesday evening.
- Newt Gingrich campaigns in Maryland, holding a media availability in Annapolis at 10:30 a.m. and attending an event in Salisbury at 3 p.m.
- Rick Santorum holds a pair of Wisconsin rallies in Beaver Dam at 12:30 p.m. and Janesville at 7 p.m.
- Mitt Romney appears on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” at 11:30 p.m.
- Ron Paul has no public campaign events scheduled.
All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:
For more political coverage, visit our politics page.
Sign up here to receive the Morning Line in your inbox every morning.
Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.