Republicans: 2016 election a referendum on 'Obamacare'
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
President Barack Obama speaks about the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold the subsidies that comprise the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, June 25, 2015. AFP PhotoThe June 25 Supreme Court decision helped solidify President Barack Obama's landmark health care law -- and galvanized every Republican 2016 presidential candidate in their vows to repeal it.
The ruling upheld a controversial portion of the Affordable Care Act that allows the federal government to subsidize insurance by giving tax credits to consumers nationwide.
For the many Republicans seeking the White House, it hardened their opposition to a law they never supported.
"Every GOP candidate for the Republican nomination should know that this decision makes the 2016 election a referendum on the full repeal of Obamacare," said Senator Ted Cruz, one of the more conservative candidates in the crowded Republican field.
Full repeal is "central to my campaign," he added in a statement.
"Any candidate not willing to do the same -- and campaign on it every day -- should step aside."
Each of Cruz's Republican rivals made a similar pledge on June 25, assuring a united front by Republicans against Obama's signature domestic policy achievement.
"The 2016 race... will be centered on health care as the most dominant domestic issue in the country," insisted White House hopeful Senator Lindsey Graham, imploring Americans to "take advantage of this opportunity" and vote Republican.
Obamacare pervaded the 2012 election too. Republican nominee Mitt Romney argued he would abolish it "root and branch" if he became president, despite Obama modeling his law after Romney's own health care reforms that he implemented as governor of Massachusetts.
Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush said on June 25 that "as president of the United States, I would make fixing our broken health care system one of my top priorities."
He also vowed to work with Congress to "repeal and replace this flawed law with conservative reforms."
In similar language, Libertarian-leaning Senator Rand Paul stressed that "as president, I would make it my mission to repeal it, and propose real solutions for our healthcare system."
Few GOP candidates have a detailed plan to replace the law adopted in 2010 and fully implemented from 2014. But all say they want a consumer- or patient-driven system in its place.
Conservatives say that the reforms represent unconstitutional government intrusion into the lives of private citizens by compelling them to buy insurance, and by subsidizing insurance for the poor in order to boost the number of people covered.
"We need to do the one thing we've never tried in our healthcare system: real competition," said candidate Carly Fiorina, a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.
The Democratic candidates -- frontrunner Hillary Clinton, along with rivals Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee -- were unanimous in their support for the Supreme Court ruling.