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Supreme Court's healthcare ruling derails GOP's jobs message

June 28, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) listens to fellow Republicans after the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act in Washington.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) listens to fellow Republicans… (Win McNamee / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON -- On Capitol Hill, a funny thing happened after the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling.

Republicans, whose stated priority for the past 18 months has been jobs and the economy, spent the day talking about health care.

And Democrats, who have shied away from President Obama’s signature domestic policy accomplishment, preferred to talk about jobs.

“The Supreme Court has spoken. The matter is settled,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “We shouldn't waste time refighting old, old battles. We should focus on creating jobs, improving the economy of the people of this country.”

Not so fast, said Republicans in the House. They scheduled a July 11 vote to repeal – again -- the healthcare law.

“The real outcome of today's decision is to strengthen our resolve to make sure that this law is, in fact, repealed,” said House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) after meeting with an angry rank-and-file Republican caucus behind closed doors.

Boehner, who has reached into his jacket pocket almost every week to pull out a card listing the GOP jobs bills – and asked, “Where are the jobs?” – did not do so on Thursday. “The American people want this bill -- they want it repealed.”

In fact, what Americans want is mixed, polls show, without a clear majority for keeping or disposing of the healthcare law. What is clear, however, is that the struggling economy and jobs outlook remain the top priority of voters.

That divide makes both parties vulnerable to voter unrest in the months ahead, especially as Congress is unlikely to find much to agree on that could improve the economy.

For Republicans, the do-over votes on the healthcare law – the House has already voted previously to repeal it – could energize the conservative base in the months before the November election. But the strategy also risks taking the GOP off the jobs message, even though the crux of its arguments against the health care law is that it hurts the economy and stalls job creation.

Even if Republicans lead passage of a repeal vote in the House, the measure – like others before it – will likely be ignored in the Senate, where Democrats have a majority.

“The public is fatigued with all these partisan fights they just want to keep re-enacting,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) “We are moving on to focus on jobs and the economy.”

Democrats, meanwhile, will turn their attention next month to a proposal that would offer tax breaks for small businesses.

Twitter.com/LisaMascaroinDC

lisa.mascaro@latimes.com

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