By DONNA CASSATA
and HENRY C. JACKSON
July 10, 2012
WASHINGTON — Victory at the Supreme Court for President Barack Obama and Democrats on health care is reopening political divisions within the party over the unpopular law.
Four months to an election with control of Congress in the balance, the court’s affirmation of the law left several Democrats insisting that the issue was settled and it’s time to focus on helping the sluggish economy.
Other Democrats saw the newfound attention as a chance to reset the debate and make a fresh case for the law’s more popular elements, especially as 12.8 million people start getting health insurance rebate checks in the coming months.
Even before Obama signed the measure in March 2010, Republicans were unified in opposition and clear in their message: repeal and replace. The White House and divided Democrats have been frustrated in trying to explain and sell the law to a skeptical public. The court’s decision was a reminder of political reality.
Two years ago, grassroots outrage over health care contributed to the Democrats losing the House majority and seven Senate seats. Republicans and outside groups promise more of the same in the campaign push to November.
Public opposition to the health-care law remains high. Forty-seven percent of respondents in a recent Associated Press-GfK poll said they oppose the law while 33 percent said they support it. Thirteen percent said they are neutral. Those who strongly oppose the legislation also outnumber those who strongly support it, 32 percent to 17 percent, about a 2-to-1 margin.