The Michigan Senate race just got a whole lot more interesting.
The Supreme Court’s ruling last week upholding a core Obamacare funding mechanism, the individual mandate, as a tax puts Sen. Debbie Stabenow (and other Democratic Senators running for re-election in 2012) on the defensive.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McDonnell, R-Kentucky, quickly seized on the Obamacare tax hike as a crucial issue in Senate campaigns.
“Seventy-seven percent of this tax is going to be on the middle class making less than $125,000 a year,” he said on Fox News Sunday. “It’s a middle class tax. . . increase. Every Democratic Senator voted for Obamacare. Every single Democrat on the ballot this November was the deciding vote to pass this bill.”
In an uncomfortable interview with Chris Wallace on the same program, White House Chief Weasel – er, Chief of Staff – John Lew dodged and squirmed from the Supreme Court’s toxic ruling, going so far as to fib about the clear language of Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling. “The opinion said that there are multiple powers that Congress has to make the law,” said Lew in insisting that the court upheld the law under the Commerce Clause as a penalty.
“That’s not what he said,” retorted Wallace. He’s right, of course.
“The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance,” wrote Roberts contradicting Lew’s rewriting of history. “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.”
If it walks like a duck. . . . Stabenow ignored the issue in spinning the Court’s decision as a win. Indeed, the individual mandate was written as a penalty because Democrats never would have passed Obamacare as a tax. And since tax legislation cannot be filibustered, now GOPers only need 50 seats in the Senate to overturn the mandate – as MIView’s Dan Calabrese reports.
Stabenow’s Senate opponents smell blood.
“The most pressing issue in America is jobs. The new taxes in Obamacare, the new rules, and the new regulations are job killers,” GOP candidate Pete Hoekstra told the Michigan View. “Senator Stabenow will be accountable this November. ”
“The fact that this law stands does not change the reality of its effects. Now we find out that it includes a tax that was never contemplated during its debate in Congress,” said Republican candidate Clark Durant in a press release.
Stabenow has largely skated through 2012 protected both by a friendly Michigan media and her support of the auto bailouts which have helped Michigan and blunted the effect of the bad national economy on her campaign.
Now that her vote for Obamacare has been exposed as a tax hike scheme, she has been wounded. And Jack Lew’s evasions won’t be much help.