By Justin Sink
The White House is encouraging congressional Democrats to go on the offensive after the Supreme Court upheld the president's signature healthcare legislation Thursday, urging members on the campaign trail to "illustrate how the President and Democrats in Congress are standing up for the middle class."
The memo, written by White House senior adviser David Plouffe and sent to the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, says the party should be happy to debate Republicans on taxes.
Republicans have been hammering President Obama on the issue after the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act would be allowed to stand, but only if it were re-categorized as a tax. That prompted many in the GOP to taunt that Obama was now responsible for one of the largest tax increases in American history, and say the president violated his campaign pledge to keep taxes down on the middle class.
“In the eyes of the court, that’s all that the penalty tied to the individual mandate ever was: a tax imposed by a Democrat Congress, primarily on the middle class. And let’s be very clear about that: the tax connected to the individual mandate is not primarily a tax on the rich but on the middle class Americans who will bear the brunt of it," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a statement Thursday.
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But Plouffe accused Republicans of attempting to "deliberately misrepresent the President’s record of cutting taxes for the middle class."
"On every issue — from reducing the deficit in a balanced way to paying for investments in education — Republicans refuse to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share all while cutting the investments we need to grow the middle class," he added.
The memo also outlines a series of talking points for Democratic leaders, saying they should emphasize tax cuts signed into law under Obama. The White House strategist also urges members to increasingly discuss the healthcare law as a settled issue, with the Supreme Court having provided "a clear and final ruling on this law."
"Right now, Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs," Plouffe continues.
Democrats could face a tough sell on the healthcare law, though. In a USA Today/Gallup poll released Friday, 44 percent had an unfavorable view of the bill, versus 37 percent with a favorable view. But the country is evenly split on the Supreme Court's action, with 46 percent of those surveyed saying the law was either constitutional or unconstitutional.